I must admit I got a little teary-eyed just now. My wonderful husband and I have been hitting it so hard, trying to get my stories out into the world. I also work full-time in addition to my other responsibilities. It can be very hard to find the time, energy, and finances to continue pursuing my dream.
To compound the difficulty, think about how hard it is to get noticed as an unknown author. Millions of books are competing for the same space, and it seems everything is stacked against us. Not only must an author find time to write – they also must promote their books in an attempt to rise above the crowd.
I am blessed with the ability to create my own graphics for my advertising efforts (I have a terrific graphic artist who does my book covers, so I have a great foundation to work with) and I am also able to make my own website. I save a tremendous amount of money by doing it all myself, but it takes more time – time away from writing.
Let’s take a quick look at advertising. Both Amazon and Facebook are platforms that facilitate advertising campaigns – but they are convoluted and are constantly changing. Worst of all, they both follow a model I find disheartening – “pay per click.” Authors are competing against one another for views and that drives the price of each click upward, and it is the platform that profits the most. Just because someone clicks on your “Shop Now” button, taking them to your Amazon page, is no guarantee they will purchase your book. People often click to find out more about a product, not necessarily with the intent to buy. This paradigm makes it difficult to just break even, when the profit margin for books is so small. And while I don’t believe AI will threaten well-crafted stories – it will add to the marketplace clutter – which will in turn most likely increase advertising costs.
So why did I get teary-eyed? Is it because of what I just shared with you? While that is a source of frustration that caused my stomach to clench last night as I was reflecting on my author journey and feeling very discouraged – that isn’t the reason behind my tears. I was on LinkedIn today (which is the least likely platform for advertising a book) and I noticed someone I had recently met at the International Space Development Conference who “liked” my post advertising my book – in other words – who was publicly showing their support.
That simple gesture reminded me of what a fantastic journey I have been on and who I have met, all because I am working hard at promoting my books. It reminded me of the encouragement I have received from so many people and the friends that I have made along the way. Just last night I had a Facebook conversation with someone on one of our city’s community pages. I have never met this person, yet they went out of their way to publicly praise my writing and encourage me in my efforts.
Looking at that “like” on LinkedIn today reminded me that my success as a writer is not about my sales or Amazon rank. Yes, I am working hard toward getting my stories out into the world,but the true measure of my success is wrapped up in the intangibles of having a positive impact on my readers through my stories, and the people I am blessed to meet along the way. I am very grateful for their support and friendship, and I’m much richer for it.
I have another blog post on the way, but I wanted to get this one out quickly so you don’t miss out on a special sale. We are in the midst of a Kindle Countdown and you have the opportunity to get a Kindle version of Alien Neighbors for only 99 cents!!
I couldn’t be more proud of the hard work that went behind writing Alien Neighbors, and all by grabbing precious time to write around our beautiful family and working full-time. Even if science fiction is not normally your genre, I think you will find Alien Neighbors a fun and uplifting read.
And if you have something you are passionate about – don’t give up on it. Dreams really can come true if you keep pursuing them. Maybe not in the time frame you hoped for initially – but keep at it, and it will happen
My husband Phil and I had a wonderful time at the International Space Development Conference (hosted by the National Space Society), where we met so many amazing people from around the world who share a common love for all things space and the betterment of humanity through space exploration. We had an exhibitor table for my books and as both an engineer and an author, I am grateful I was given the opportunity to speak and share my passion for how science fiction serves to stir us to imagine the possibilities about the future. Science fiction has influenced so many to enter scientific or engineering occupations and invent what was once regarded as fantasy.
Seeing all of the young people attending from other countries because they did research projects in line with space exploration was fun and it was also exciting to see their interest in STEM. The picture at the top of this blog post is of the Space Settlement Contest Grand Prize winners. You can also check out their model entry below:
Students from around the world made posters of their projects and we attended their presentations where they explained what their project was about. The projects ranged from living in space (with well-constructed means of providing for all of the needs people living there would require), to asteroid mining, and farming in space. Their projects showed both technical savvy and creativity. The students had the opportunity to show off their soft skills while they explained their research and they all did a great job.
I had several special moments with various groups of young people. Some boys from Romania were talking among themselves as they dropped a water bottle accidentally and one of them kicked it. It went towards the direction of our exhibitor table and I could tell by the boys’ expressions that they thought I would be getting on to them about it. Instead, I came from around my table and kicked it back to them and signaled for them to kick it back. In the middle of the space conference foyer, I had a impromptu game of soccer with a group of boys and the smiles and laughter were universal – although the game ended abruptly when one of the conference officials spotted our shenanigans and shut us down 🙂
We had a raffle every day and the students who won were so excited! The prize was an artsy canvas depicting Kepler-186f, which is the planet that the aliens are from in my science fiction novel, Alien Neighbors. One of our winners gave us some cute buttons she made to remember her by – which we will always treasure.
As I walked about the conference foyer that ran along the front of all of the session rooms, I waved and smiled and got many smiles and waves in return. Many of the young people came to our exhibitor table to say hello and we made many new friends among the adult conference attendees, fellow exhibitors and presenters, and students, throughout the four days.
I am so excited that I also got to meet one of the keynote speakers, Dr. Pascal Lee, and I was very honored that he wanted a signed copy of my science fiction novel, Alien Neighbors. Not only is he an amazing planetary scientist – he is also a talented artist and even more – he is a super nice guy. Celebrities are typically swarmed by people while also prepping for their presentations which has to be stressful, yet he still paused in the midst of it all to encourage me. Isaac Arthur, the president of the National Space Society, dropped by our table to say hello and chat a bit. We had a delightful conversation about the impact of science fiction on science. We got to know a fellow author named Alastair Storm Browne who has written a really good book, Cosmic Careers. His book was perfect for this conference, since there were so many young people attending interested in space careers.
The icing on the cake for me occurred in the afternoon of the last day. I got to meet Col. Eileen M. Collins. Among her many achievements, she is the first American woman to command a space mission, as well as the first to pilot the space shuttle. She shares her life story in a terrific book called Through the Glass Ceiling to the Stars (which I got signed – Yay!) She graciously accepted a signed copy of Alien Neighbors in return 🙂 She made me feel truly valued during our brief chat – something I will always remember and cherish.
While we went to the conference intending to sell my books (and we did sell some – Yay!), something even better happened. We met some incredible people and made new friends, we learned a lot about space exploration and what is currently being developed, and we were also blessed to be able to encourage many of the next generation of scientists and engineers. Special thanks to my incredible, handsome husband Phil – I couldn’t do what I do without his love and help – and to Ken Ruffin and the North Texas Chapter of the NSS for their encouragement and support – it was an experience we will never forget!
From the beloved poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” more commonly known as “Twas The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clark Moore: “The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads…”
That was me this morning…but rather than sugar-plums, it was my latest novel, Sword of Fate, that danced in my head. I am so excited about my latest literary effort for many reasons. Ultimately, I think it is a fun story with great themes. Who wouldn’t love a fantasy tale with dragons and flutebirds and a shapeshifting hero that must overcome his own fears, if he is to succeed in overthrowing the evil usurper? But what kept me up in the wee hours today was thinking about the backstory.
I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a writer. Other people also knew and towards that goal, I received an electric typewriter as a birthday gift. For the early 80’s, the technology was amazing! I used to joke it would do everything including write the book for you and take it to the post office. Back then, authors would mail their typewritten manuscripts to a publisher in hopes of it making its way out of the slush pile (upon completing your manuscript, you put it in a large manila envelope along with another one tucked inside addressed to yourself with adequate postage so you could get it back) and waited the requisite several weeks for a reply.
During that time I worked at a grocery store. I was in charge of the camera department (remember when we used to use analog film that had to be taken to the store to be developed?) and my department had small TVs, clock radios, Seiko and Timex watches (and the tool to replace watch batteries for customers), a machine to make copies of keys, books and magazine racks, VHS and Beta movie rentals, and cigarettes – all captured within a 400 square foot space. When I got off work, I would drive through a nearby McDonald’s, get a six pack chicken nuggets and a chocolate ice cream cone (I was much younger and could eat anything), then drove a few blocks further to a pet shop where I worked a couple of hours showing critters to customers or catching and bagging tropical fish, running the cash register, and using a pricing gun to mark items and stock them on the shelves. So what does all of that have to do with Sword of Fate you might ask?
After getting off work at the pet shop, I would jump back in my car and head a couple of miles over to a gas station/mechanic shop a few miles down the road. My husband at the time worked for Exxon, and since we lived about 20 miles away and shared one car – I had to wait for him to get off work before we could head home. He often worked into the late evening. The manager of the Exxon was kind enough to allow me to keep my typewriter in his office and it was while waiting for my husband to get off work that the first draft of Sword of Fate was written.
Naive as I was at the time (along with a woeful lack of resources for a fledgling writer in the early 1980s) I believed that finishing a first draft meant I had written a saleable book. I broke our household budget by purchasing a Writer’s Market and with a hopeful heart mailed Sword of Fate to one of the publishers I found within its pages. Several weeks passed and I eventually received Sword of Fate back from the publisher with a polite rejection letter. By that time, I had quit both of my jobs at the grocery store and pet shop, to go back to school at a local college, DeVry Institute of Technology. The program was intense (an Associate of Applied Science in Electronics in eighteen months) and so I left my writing days behind me. I graduated and eventually became a test engineer in the semiconductor industry. But I kept that manila envelope that held my first draft of Sword of Fate with me all of those years. It miraculously stayed among my possessions through many life changes and moves (I still wish I could find my letter jacket in soccer from my old high school!).
Fast forward to 2019. The desire to write had never left and I decided to start a writer’s group. You can read about the Carrollton League of Writers here. I had returned to writing briefly in the mid 1990s and had a science fiction project I began right before my son was born. Motherhood consumed the majority of my time and it stayed on the back burner until five years ago. That book some of you have read – Alien Neighbors, which I launched in November of 2021. While trying to decide on my next project, I looked for my old manuscript to see if it was worth resurrecting. What a great time I had going down memory lane – carefully pulling it out of that old manila envelope and thumbing through its typewritten pages! One of the funnest things for a writer is to go back and read something they’ve written many years prior and think, “Wow, that’s pretty good!” Although I knew I would need to bring it forward to my current level of writing, I was delighted with what I read.
The image above is from the original copy I hauled around all of those years. Note the yellowed appearance – the paper was white when I first drew that map. So what do I do with a thick manuscript of partially faded ink? How do I get that into a usable format in Word for revision and editing? The thought of having to type the entire manuscript into Word was daunting. Thank God for optical scanners! An optical scanner is different from a regular scanner which simply creates a “picture” of what is being scanned. An optical scanner converts what is being scanned into a document that can be edited, like any other Word document. I purchased the most inexpensive one I could find and every day I would scan a few pages at a time until the entire manuscript was in Word in a format that I could edit.
Now that I had a manuscript in Word, my next step was to go through it and determine how much work it needed. Did it follow the three-act structure? Did it have appropriate pinch points? Was the prose both creative and tight with appropriate imagery and world building? Is the plot as engaging now as it was back then? So many questions!
Time to get to work. Print out a copy to mark up (I like to do my initial rounds of revisions on paper with a red pen) and start the revision process. Incorporate my edits into the manuscript. Ask for feedback from friends. Rinse and Repeat through several iterations. And now…we are close! Time to hire a professional cover designer and professional editor. Keep moving forward – working with both to fulfill my vision for both cover and text. And that is where we are today 😊
I hope you enjoyed learning about the creation backstory and you are as excited as I am about Sword of Fate’s launch into the world (tentatively set for April 24th).
I was laying awake in bed this morning and my mind turned to all of the blessings that you have poured on me throughout my life. My heart filled with gratitude and I wanted to thank you for your everlasting love, mercy, and compassion. You know I got it wrong a lot, did things that I am ashamed to admit, had many selfish moments, yet you continue to love me despite myself. I have walked some pretty tough roads in life, yet I always knew you were right there with me and you carried me when I couldn’t carry myself. You wept when I wept and you wrapped me in your peace and love during my worst moments.
You never stopped planning for my good, even when I couldn’t see it in my current circumstance. I look back at the poor decisions I made and You, in Your great love for me, redeemed each one. I am grateful that you know I am frail and weak and that you look into my heart to know my true intent, especially when I give in to the temptations of this world and fail you. You don’t give up on me and you forgive me. You even help me forgive myself.
I also looked back on all of the people you have brought into my life. The gift of my husband Phil, my son Josh and most recently, his beautiful wife Naomi. My sisters and brothers and sisters-in-law. The daughters you brought into my life not by blood but from love. Countless people from around the world that have blessed us with their friendship.
The experiences you have blessed me with over the years are innumerable and when I start reflecting on all of the opportunities You have provided me, I am so grateful and humbled – Ephesians 3:20 comes to mind. I have been able to do more than I could have ever thought of or imagined for myself. I would list them here, but I am afraid it would look like I am being pretentious because you are so extravagant in Your generosity – truly each one has been possible because of You. The list is long and contains accomplishments I personally desired because you are a God that loves us and sings over us as we fulfill what You have created us to love – such as riding a horse that has never been ridden before or becoming an author. You also exult over us as we strive to further Your Kingdom using the gifts you have blessed us with – such as teaching and participating in community outreach.
My son reminded me of something else today – You give us so many small miracles to be thankful for. Sometimes we lose sight of that because we are hoping for the bigger ones, but in all things You are moving Your plans forward and blessing us along the way. And when our hearts cry out to you because we can’t feel you near – you make the leaves dance where there is no wind (Thank you, Father – I will never forget that day).
Thank you for your amazing love for us and for the incredible gift of eternal life we have through your Son Jesus Christ. I can never thank you enough. Please help me to be a reflection of Your love to the world.
I signed it “Child” because we are His children! 1 John 1:3 tells us, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
We live in a broken world. Suffering is all around us. But there is also beauty if we have eyes to see. We can be a part of that beauty by loving those around us.
Take time to write your own love letter to God and as a thank you to Him who loves us beyond measure, see what you can do to be a light in the darkness.
We are made to be community. It is obvious that we are when we reflect upon the longings that each of us have to belong. It is especially evident in the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Knowing that we are made in God’s image makes it not surprising that we also want to be in fellowship with others. What does that look like? We love being in the community of our family. We keep in touch with each other even though we live apart. We share each other’s concerns, we celebrate each other’s joys, and we pray for one another. Friends are an extension of family. Indeed, friends are the family we choose. Being in community with friends brings the same obligation as family – concern for each other’s well-being. Often times we find friendship with people who share common interests and that is another way that we enter community. That might mean riding horses together, or attending a Bible study, or riding bicycles on the trails in our city. Perhaps being part of a group such as a writers group.
And then we have the community of our community. It is such a blessing to be able to walk into our dental office and be recognized and greeted by name, and asked how our son is doing. We know when we bring our car to our local mechanic shop, the owner will take a personal interest in making sure that our car is fixed and stop to chat. He even made the hour drive to our wedding vow renewal on horseback (a story for another time). It could be chatting with your favorite checker at Walmart or greeting the person at the drive-thru you frequent. Or striking up a conversation with your server at your favorite restaurant. The possibilities are endless and only limited by your willingness to extend the hand of friendship to those you meet throughout your day. What a wonderful blessing to be able to walk into different businesses around the community and just like the song from the television show “Cheers” – Everyone knows your name – and just as important – You know theirs…
I think the relationship must be reciprocal for it to be the beautiful thing true community can be. Phil and I have lived here a long time and when we talk about perhaps moving someplace else someday, we always struggle because of the community that we are so blessed to be a part of. If you aren’t in a community of your own right now, I want to encourage you to start seeking out people in your life that you can encourage and they can encourage you. It all starts with a smile and a simple offer of friendship. You can even invite that solitary diner sitting across the room in the restaurant who looks a bit lonely to join you at your table – you never know – that may be the start of a beautiful relationship.
How are some ways to build community within your own spheres of influence? Lots of people around us work in service industries, but they don’t have to remain nameless to us when they serve us. We can inquire as to their name, ask how their families are doing and if they’re in school or what their hobbies are. We can express our gratitude for their service. It’s good to remember that people are always the most important and no matter where you find yourself, you can find community. It’s also good to remember that you don’t need to seek out people that are exactly like you – reaching out to those who are different is sure to add a beautiful dimension to your life that you have not previously experienced – and you don’t have to compromise your own personal beliefs and values to open your hearts and minds to others. And if you are already in a vibrant community – invite others to join in.
I hope you Choose TO BE IN Community – We have so much to learn fROm one another and youR Life AND THE LIVes YOU TOUCH will be so much richer for it!
Traditions are so important. They ground us, they bring comfort during turbulent times, they give us a sense of who we are and that we belong. I would like to share something special that happened during our son Josh and his beautiful wife Naomi’s visit this past week. I wanted to do something special with Naomi that honored our family’s traditions and also pass one down to her. I reached out to my sister Janet to make sure I got the recipe right (Yes, Sis – I used Panko!) and bought the ingredients for making the macaroni and cheese that my mom used to make. She didn’t make it very often and so we were all very excited when she did. I remember the unique bread crumb crust on the top that everybody loved.
So this week Naomi and I made Mom’s macaroni and cheese together. It was a very special time as we chatted and together decided how much of what to put in it, since we didn’t use any measuring cups. Naomi’s grandmother had also shared a macaroni and cheese recipe for her to treasure. Naomi now has a recipe from my Mom that she may not follow exactly, but is something for her to build off of (along with her grandma’s recipe) that will carry a part of both of our families into the new family that she and Josh are creating together – and that is really cool!
I thank God for the gift of my daughter-in-love Naomi and I’m so blessed by the times that we get to spend together.
If you don’t have a family tradition to pass down, that’s okay because you can start creating your own right now. And it doesn’t even have to be family that you pass it to. The important thing about tradition is the love behind it and that each of us can create our own as an expression of that love and give it to anyone. It’s also good to remember that blessings are meant to flow in both directions. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to the German Pancakes Naomi makes for us whenever we get together for an extended visit – Yum!!
Leah Venetucci’s Mac N Cheese
16 oz. large elbow macaroni
Approximately 1 cup of milk
Kraft Deluxe American Cheese (12 Slices)
Breadcrumbs (You can use plain or Panko)
9 X 12 Glass Baking Pan
Lots of love
Cook the elbow macaroni as you normally would – boiling – straining – and adding a dollop of olive oil to prevent the macaroni from sticking together. Now would be a good time to start preheating your oven to 350 degrees.
Place pats of butter on the bottom of the baking pan. You can also mix some butter in with the macaroni, although we settled for just the olive oil we had already added earlier. Layer half of macaroni into pan. Pour approximately half a cup of milk over macaroni. Layer cheese slices on top of macaroni. (For a richer recipe you can add additional pats of butter on the cheese – being a bit health conscious, we chose not to do that this time and really didn’t miss it).
Repeat with another layer of macaroni and add some more milk (this is now individual preference as to how you like the final texture to turn out – more milky or less milky…) and layer cheeses slices on top of macaroni.
Now the fun part – shake the container of breadcrumbs so that they cover the top layer of cheese. You can experiment with how thick a layer you like, but it doesn’t take much to achieve the desired affect of a crispy, tasty top.
Bake for about 30 minutes (on top rack is fine) until golden brown. Timing is not critical but if you see the macaroni is getting crisp and you don’t want to overcook it – you can also broil it for a few minutes (less than 5) to achieve the color of the crust you see in the pictures. If you choose to do this, the top will cook very quickly, so you will want to monitor it closely.
It is now ready to enjoy and of course refrigerate leftovers promptly. We also have a family tradition of praying over our meals and we often end our prayer in a beautiful way – “Please bless this food and the hands that prepared it.” I think we’ll start including, “and thank you for the tradition of love behind it.” Seems like a good idea, don’t you think?
Today my Mom is celebrating her 98th birthday in Heaven, as we remember her special day with a mixture of joy and sadness here on Earth. I was looking in the mirror this morning, and I saw my Mom’s features in my own face – the way her face would crinkle with lines etched by life’s trials complemented by the wrinkles engraved from a lifetime of smiles. How her eyes would squint a bit when she smiled – one more than the other and with a twinkle in her eyes. I felt joy shoving my grief back into its corner. I am my Mom’s legacy!
Funny thing about the aging process. I am finding this season of life has challenges my younger version could not begin to fathom, but also blessings that I am very grateful for. I remember Mom’s jovial disclosure of her age on every birthday – “I’m 29!” I have chosen to keep my hard-earned wisdom highlights visible, whereas she had chosen to keep her red hair for several decades before letting go of her fiery crown. Either way, she was, and is, beautiful.
Mom had a hearty laugh and a great sense of humor. She lit up any room she was in and she took much joy in music. I love this video of Mom singing while Phil and I dance in our kitchen after coming home from a Christmas eve service.
When I look back on the impact she had on my life and her steadfast love, I feel so grateful that God gave her to me to be my Mom. Cheerleader, teacher, confidante, nurturer, she was always there with a smile, a hug, and a word of wisdom. She was also there through every bump I experienced, even when they were the results of my own poor decisions.
Mom had a strong influence in my life. She would often say: “You have to have trust and faith,” “Don’t worry twice,” “Take some honey,” “Think happy thoughts,” and always in times of trouble – “It’s not a forever thing,” and “Lord, grant me the serenity…” So when asked to speak at a ladies ministry event at Living Word Global Church last year – Mom came to mind and I knew it was a great opportunity to share with others the wisdom my Mom had garnered throughout her life. She leaves a beautiful legacy in all of the lives she has touched, which I was able to share in the video below:
Our time on Earth is short, and while we think we will have the opportunity to be with our loved ones, the truth is, the day the Lord calls them home will always be sooner then what we would want, even if we know that day is coming. Romans 14:8, “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” gives me much comfort – but I do miss her daily.
Don’t neglect time with your loved ones – because tomorrow is not promised to any of us. The cherished memories of our many times together provide comfort until we are reunited again in Heaven. I also hope you can find time to listen to Mom’s wisdom – her words have carried me through some difficult times and I think they will bless you, too. And when you are going through those hard times, tell yourself an important truth that I know my Mom would tell you: “It’s not a forever thing.” You will get out the other side to a place of blessing. It might take awhile – but stay strong and hold onto your faith. You will get there. And when you do that, I am quite certain my Mom will be smiling down from Heaven.
Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money, but my Mom gave me a wonderful gift that surpasses any of the toys we couldn’t afford – she gave me the gift of a love for reading. Every night she would sit on my bed with me and my brother, and read to us from Babar the Elephant. She took us on adventures and nurtured in us a love for books.
When I was in elementary school I couldn’t wait to get my report card because if I got all As and Bs, I could count on Mom taking me to Kmart to pick out a Nancy Drew mystery. Evenings were spent in the living room with my family. We each had our “spot” and mine was the green chair next to the lamp. I would sit cuddled up and reading while my Mom, Dad, and brother watched T.V.
When bedtime arrived – I would say my good nights, and I couldn’t wait to get to bed. Hiding under my blanket with my flashlight, I was transported to other worlds. My stack of library books were a free ticket to wondrous adventures. I would keep half an ear listening for Mom’s footsteps, so I could shut off my flashlight before she saw me. Looking back, I am quite sure she knew I was reading and smiled as she checked on me while I did my best imitation of being asleep.
I remember when my Mom took me to the library and got me a library card – I thought I was in heaven. She would drop me off at the library in our community and I would lose myself there for hours. When I came outside of its doors at our agreed upon time for Mom to bring me back home, I would be carrying a huge stack of books that I could barely see over, threatening to topple out of my arms as I made my way to the waiting car. Which is why TODAY IS SO SPECIAL!!!
There is something absolutely magical about seeing a book you have written made available in your local library
If you would like a copy in your local library – be sure and request it from your local librarian. Alien Neighbors is in the IngramSpark catalogue and they can order it from there for your library. Happy Reading!!
Today is Palm Sunday – the beginning of Holy Week recognized by those, like me, who are followers of Jesus Christ. As excited as we all get about Christmas (the birth of our Savior!!) it runs second to the most exciting holiday of all in the Christian calendar. In the secular world it is known as Easter Sunday but to understand the meaning of Easter in all its glory – Christians refer to it as Resurrection Day – the day that Jesus conquered death after bearing incredible torture on our behalf – and all of this driven by His love for us. The Bible tells us in Romans 10:9-10, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Easter commemorates God raising Jesus from the dead. Palm Sunday is the day Jesus arrived in Jerusalem – knowing what was ahead, yet still choosing to do so.
We have all been living in tremendous tension for the past two years, as the world remains in a constant state of chaos and uncertainty and there seems to be no end in sight. This plaque hangs in our kitchen, bringing comfort even when the unfathomable happens. It reminds me of God’s purpose through His Son Jesus Christ for humanity: John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” We have a hope that is enduring, a Lord who loves us, and a purpose ordained by Him for our time on earth. Holy Week is a special reminder that God’s love for us is relentless, incomprehensible, sacrificial, and unconditional. Perfect and without sin, yet willing to die for us – that is the amazing love that God has for us.
You may hear a Christian exclaim, “He is Risen!!” on Easter Sunday – we just can’t contain our excitement. It really is an emotional time of gratitude for us and we are overflowing with joy as we contemplate the sacrifice of our Lord and how He overcame death so that we can spend eternity with Him. The usual response is just as enthusiastic: “He is Risen, Indeed!!”
What we find so amazing is that God is faithful even when we aren’t. The Bible tells us in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He doesn’t wait for us to clean up our acts – He loves us exactly where we are at, with a fierce love that knows no bounds. The baby born in the manger on Christmas Day is God’s greatest expression of love – His provision to deliver us from our sins so that we can spend eternity with him. He tells us in John 16:33, “‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.'”
I take tremendous comfort in this. My last blog post was titled “What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do.” It was helpful to be sure. But yesterday after a stressful week of having surgery, a minor reaction during recovery, and starting a new position at work, I found myself in need of more. I needed to be still. I needed Jesus. So I found myself crying out yet again, and again, Jesus met me at my point of need.
As we begin our journey towards Easter Sunday, and we focus on the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, it is good to remember to not only keep Jesus in Easter, but to also invite Him into our lives throughout the year. Jesus came down from heaven to save us from our sins. When we call out to Him, not only do we receive eternal salvation, we receive His peace on earth. Putting Christ in the center of our lives changes everything. Gaining the eternal perspective of heaven helps us walk in this world with all of its pain and suffering, and enables us to do so with joy. The joy we have in Christ overflows into our relationships and our daily lives, touching others even as it touches us.
God’s love for us is beautiful, extravagant, and unforgettable. Each one of us has a purpose under heaven and we are each given a season to live out that purpose. Our ultimate purpose is to love God and to love others. That looks different for each one of us because we are all unique, but the end result is the same: In whatever we do, let us honor God and seek to please Him, and love one another in both our words and actions. Life here on earth is both precious and short – Let’s remember to do that each and every day
If you would like to learn more about Jesus – I will be glad to send you a copy of an Advent Devotional I wrote (available on Amazon) for free. While it is directed towards the Christmas season it can be read any time of year and will give you a better understanding of who Jesus is and why Christians get so excited about Easter 🙂 Just message me your email address and I will gift you a free Kindle version. I promise not to contact you or use your email address for any other purpose. May you enjoy a blessed Easter season!