Archives For Life on Glenwood Boulevard

Life in Small Spaces

Renee Ann Smith —  October 12, 2015 — 20 Comments

The school where I teach is a pretty small place.

My students experience the benefits of being a tight-knit family. They have people who love them, help them, hurt when they’re hurting.

They never walk through their days without others by their side—even when they’d rather be alone.

By second period, they’ve passed each other in the hallway, bumped elbows at the bathroom mirror, heard the whispered gossip at their lockers . . .

And they know, just as we all can see their trendy outfits and hairdos, we can often see the things they’d rather hide.

It can be hot under that spotlight when people know so much about you—especially on the days when you feel you barely know yourself.

Just like in a family, sometimes that very closeness that’s meant to be a comfort is what makes us guard ourselves all the more,

lest the ugly inner stuff—the anger, pettiness, jealousy, insecurity, fear—

spill out all over for everyone to see.

When the ugliness spills, it smudges our friendships and our reputations,

and the judgment that’s sure to follow breaks our hearts. 

We wonder if the folks who know us best ever will ever let us forget who we’ve become in their eyes.

At those moments, it takes a stout heart to believe God loves us in spite of our inner mess.

That He sees deep inside us and yet never feels the need to lift Himself up by exposing us to others.

That He desires only that we see it—clearly and without excuse—for ourselves so that we might accept His provision.

Then God invites us to hold out our arms and let Him clothe us with Christ’s righteousness . . . 

a one-size-fits-all covering that becomes a Veil of Grace.

And the magic is that if we view others through Christ’s Veil of Grace—

even when their pettiness, weakness, and failings are on display—

His breathtaking image, His lovely righteousness, overshadows anything else

and makes them beautiful in our sight.

Here’s the verse I’m claiming this week for life in small spaces. May God bless as I share it with my students as well.

“I delight greatly in the Lord. My soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
& arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest &
as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
Isaiah 61:10

clothed in righteousness

And a bonus quote for when you need a fresh start . . .

Second chances George Elliot

Let’s look for glimpses of His glory today. Blessings, friends!

**Photo Backstory: I create my graphics from iPhone pics or free images from sites like Unsplash & Death to Stock Photo plus the effects at PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Pass them on!
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For every time that God answers my prayers, there’s a contrasting time when He does not. Sometimes He gives healing and strength before I even ask.

Other times, I call out to Him as one crying in the wilderness and hear nothing back but the echo of my own voice.

I have experienced this barrenness at the bedside of the dying, in the wake of a betrayal, in the face of a setback or tragedy. 

And for a time it felt like there was no end to the terror in sight. No answers to the problem in sight. And, seemingly, no God in sight.

Perhaps this is how it seemed for Mary and Martha so long ago. (see their story in John 11)

These sisters knew Jesus well. They often served Him and sat at His feet. He considered their home, His home.

But when their darkest hour came—the death of their brother Lazarus, their provider and protector—they called for Jesus, and He did not come.

When this happened, perhaps Mary and Martha felt they deserved better.

After all, they were hardworking, upright, good people. They were friends of Jesus and had given Him a prominent place in their lives.

But right living doesn’t ward off heartache and knowing Jesus doesn’t doesn’t give us a get-out-of-tragedy-free card.

When Jesus Doesn't Come (Feel free to download or share!)

When we call and Jesus doesn’t come right away, it doesn’t mean He isn’t hurting with us, working for us, loving us.

What it does mean is that His delay is part of the answer to our prayer.

According to Merriam-Webster, a delay is “the amount of time you must wait for something that is late.”  Late means “something that is past the expected time.

So there’s the problem: expecting life—and God—to follow my time frame.

For the Bible tells me, “With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day.

God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost.

He’s giving everyone space and time to change.” II Peter 3:8&9, MSG

I think sometimes when I call & God delays to answer, He’s encouraging me to live out I Peter 1:8. He’s allowing me to get to the place where I can say . . . 

“Even though I have not seen Him, I love Him. And even though I do not see Him answering my prayer right now, I BELIEVE in Him and am filled with Joy.”

Yes, Jesus delayed in coming to Mary and Martha. That delay challenged them, changed them, and eventually brought great glory to God.

When all was said & done, perhaps the sisters of Lazarus could have attested with Job, I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.”

We may not see the miracle on the horizon, but we can be confident our Heavenly Father cherishes us and has our best in mind—always.

 Let’s look for glimpses of His glory today. Blessings, friends!

Martha Mary Lazarus John 11 Job 42(Feel free to download & share!)

**Photo Backstory: I create my graphics from iPhone pics or free images from sites like Unsplash & Death to Stock Photo plus the effects at PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Pass them on!
**Find me on Facebook at this link & follow!
**Let’s be Twitter pals!
If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Just let me know in the comments. You can find me here.
**Let’s connect on Instagram!
I so enjoy scrolling my Instagram feed & admiring everyone’s pics. Let me know if you’re on Instagram or find me at this link.
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Why We Write

Renee Ann Smith —  May 7, 2015 — 9 Comments

My Book Therapy Online Storycrafting

(Click to Tweet)

Typically I design my blog posts to inspire folks as they live their everyday lives and to encourage them to read Christian fiction. 

But the real reason I blog is that I want to interact with people—either my former students or friends far away or the new friends I’ve never met in person.

I blog to connect. 

Isn’t that the same for you, my fellow bloggers?

Each week you search your life for some spiritual lesson and struggle to put it into words that will resonate with others. You type up your thoughts, press publish, and pray that the seed you sow will find fertile ground in another’s heart. 

I, too, write to connect with others’ hearts. And one of the best things I’ve done to become a better “connector” was joining Susan May Warren’s My Book Therapy, which is now at learnhowtowriteanovel.com. (This is an affiliate post about her program because I believe in it that much!)

Yes, the focus of MBT is fiction. However, Susie’s principles for writing scenes and putting a story together have helped me teach better, read better, write better, and blog better.

What’s unique about this writing program is how Susan May Warren
focuses on the emotional journeys that characters take
and how the lies they believe,
about themselves and about God,
shape how He shows up in their stories.

Isn’t that what our own faith journeys are all about?

Maybe that’s why the program has even helped me better understand how God works in my own heart & life.

You used to have to travel to a retreat to hear Susie teach—and go more than once if you really wanted to apply her teaching well. But now Susie has moved her program online.

Why don’t you check it out? Registration is open now until May 13. If you purchase the online Storycrafter’s course, you receive, training videos, various materials, and access to writing coach.

Access to a coach is HUGE! That’s why I’ve paid to to to writing retreats and seminars—so I could get my questions answered by a real, live person! Books are great. But a coach is better!

So although this course requires a financial investment, I think the quality of the teaching & the access to a coach make it more than worth it!

You can check out & register for the online Storycrafter’s Program at this link.

Let me leave you with one of my favorite Susan May Warren quotes from her beautiful novella Evergreen.

Online Storycrafting Susan May Warren

May you continue to flourish in abundant life for Christ!

Thanks for  by stopping by today! Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I created the first graphic with a free image from Unsplash, and the second with an iPhone pic of my church, plus the effects at PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Pass it on!
***Find me on Facebook at this link & follow!
***Let’s be Twitter pals!
If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Just let me know in the comments. You can find me here.
***Let’s connect on Instagram!
I so enjoy scrolling my Instagram feed & admiring everyone’s pics. Let me know if you’re on Instagram or find me at this link.
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Recently, a dear former student’s two-year-old baby boy was in the hospital for almost a month. The little guy couldn’t hold down food, and the doctors couldn’t pinpoint his problem. His suffering (so bad he sometimes needed morphine) broke the hearts of all of who love his sweet family.

His mom kept us updated by posting news & pics on Facebook. Even now that the boy is home, partially healed & happy, I find myself going back to one picture that spoke to me as profoundly as any sermon.

The image shows her tiny son—with his hospital gown and feeding tube and teddy bear—bowing his head over his chubby hands to say good-night prayers with grampy. What a champ!

Several years ago, a sweet girl in my Christian school’s fourth grade class was struck by cancer. We asked God why and pleaded with Him to heal her and cried after every bad report.

When it became clear she would not be healed on earth, her grieving parents tried to prepare her. To explain death, they used a metaphor of walking through a door to another room, where they wouldn’t be able to be with her for a while.

She shrugged and said, “I know. But Jesus is on the other side of the door.

Why would I be afraid of that?” Then she went back to her coloring book.

That Christian warrior in her fragile little girl’s body was more ready to face eternity than any of us could’ve possibly imagined.

These families’ testimonies remind me of a great story from Bible teacher J. Vernon McGee.

“There is a story of sweetness and beauty . . . It concerns a custom among the shepherd folk of the Alps. In the summertime when the grass in the lower valleys withers and dries up, the shepherds seek to lead their sheep up a winding, thorny, and stony pathway to the high grazing lands.

The sheep, reluctant to take the difficult pathway infested with dangers and hardships, turn back and will not follow. The shepherds make repeated attempts.

But the timid sheep will not follow.

Finally a shepherd reaches into the flock and takes a lamb and places it under his arm, then reaches again and takes another lamb, placing it under the other arm.

Then he starts up the precipitous pathway.

Soon the mother sheep start to follow . . .

And afterward the entire flock.

At last they ascend the torturous trail to green pastures.”

McGee used his story to explain the death of innocents. But I see it as a great illustration of how God uses children in His kingdom.

Their beautiful, childlike faith calls out to our stubborn, world-weary hearts.

And before we know it, we’ve followed those sweet little lambs right into the arms of the Savior—where we should’ve been headed all along.

Lamb of God Twila Paris

“I was so lost I should have died,
But You have brought me to Your side
To be led by Your staff and rod
And to be call a lamb of God.

Oh Lamb of God, Sweet Lamb of God.
I love the Holy Lamb of God.
Oh wash me in His precious Blood,
My Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.”

***Lamb of God by Twila Paris

Here’s a link to Twila Paris singing this song. If you have a moment, soak in the beauty.

May we continue to encourage each other on this awesome faith journey! Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I created this graphic with an iPhone pic and the effects and overlays at PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Pass it on!
***Find me on Facebook at this link & follow!
***Let’s be Twitter pals!
If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Just let me know in the comments. You can find me here.
***Let’s connect on Instagram!
I so enjoy scrolling my Instagram feed & admiring everyone’s pics. Let me know if you’re on Instagram or find me at this link.
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The Christmas Paradox

Renee Ann Smith —  December 12, 2014 — 6 Comments

Chesterton Christmas Quote

Christmas is built upon a beautiful & intentional paradox;
that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.
~G. K. Chesterton~

(Click to Tweet)

In the Bleak Midwinter
by Christina Rosetti

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

You can find my other Christmas/Winter graphics here . . .

Christmas Memories

The Rising Light

The Gift of YES

The Gifts We All Can Give

His Radiance

Swift & Sure

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I made this graphic from an iPhone pic of my freshly snow-covered street on Thanksgiving morning, 2014. Of course, PicMonkey, is my editing tool of choice. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share.

***Let’s be Twitter pals! If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Just let me know in the comments. You can find me here

***Let’s connect on Instagram! I so enjoy scrolling my Instagram feed & admiring everyone’s pics. Let me know if you’re on Instagram or find me at this link. Continue Reading…

Christmas Memories

Renee Ann Smith —  December 11, 2014 — 6 Comments

Renee Ann Smith Christmas House

Like snowflakes, my Christmas memories gather & dance. Each beautiful, unique & too soon gone. ~Deborah Whipp~

(Click to Tweet)

The Christmases I can remember were far from perfect.

My early Christmases were filled with wonder. But my teen years found me bored with Christmas—and life in general.

In recent years, it seems that almost as many Christmas seasons as were characterized by bubbly, effervescent  joy, were the ones made poignant by deep grief.

Yet this remains true: My Heavenly Father sent me a Savior before I even knew I needed one.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Love Was When
by Don Wyrtzen & John Walvoord

Love was when God became a Man,
Locked in time and space, without rank or place;
Love was God born of Jewish kin;
Just a carpenter with some fishermen.

Love was when Jesus walked in history,
Lovingly He brought a new life that’s free,
Love was God nailed to bleed and die
To reach and love one such as I.

Love was when God became a Man,
Down where I could see Love that reached to me;
Love was God dying for my sin
And so trapped was I my whole world caved in.

Love was when Jesus met me, now it’s real;
Lovingly He came, I can feel He’s real!
Love was God, only He would try
To reach and love one such as I.

I’ll be posting Christmas quotes & Scriptures every day this week, so I hope to “see” you again soon.

You can find my other Christmas/Winter graphics here . . .

The Rising Light

The Gift of YES

The Gifts We All Can Give

His Radiance

Swift & Sure

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I made this graphic from an iPhone pic of my house now that it has its Christmas on! Of course, PicMonkey, is my editing tool of choice. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share.

***Let’s be Twitter pals! If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Just let me know in the comments. You can find me here

***Let’s connect on Instagram! I so enjoy scrolling my Instagram feed & admiring everyone’s pics. Let me know if you’re on Instagram or find me at this link. Continue Reading…

The Gift of YES

Renee Ann Smith —  December 9, 2014 — 5 Comments

Evergreen Susan May Warren

“Maybe, however, you’re Mary & God is asking you to be willing to say YES to whatever He asks.”

~Susan May Warren, Evergreen~

(Click to Tweet)

~Luke 1:38 & 46-55, The Message~

And Mary said, “YES, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me just as you say.

I’m bursting with God-news;
    I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.

God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
    I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
    the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.

His mercy flows in wave after wave

    on those who are in awe before him.

He bared his arm and showed his strength,
    scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
    pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
    the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;

H
e remembered and piled on the mercies,
piled them high.


It’s exactly what he promised,

    beginning with Abraham and right up to now.”

As you can see from the verses above,
Mary enthusiastically embraced God’s plan—
in spite of the censure, ridicule, judgment & emotional pain it would bring.

What a beautiful gift she poured out before the Lord.
May we all seek to trust His heart with that same, resounding YES!

I’ll be posting Christmas quotes & Scriptures every day this week, so I hope to “see” you again soon.

You can find my other Christmas/Winter graphics here . . .

The Gifts We All Can Give

His Radiance

Swift & Sure

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I made this graphic from an iPhone pic of my school’s elementary nativity play from years gone by. (It features a dear friend & former student’s daughter, who is growing up so quickly!) Of course, PicMonkey, is my editing tool of choice. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share.

***Let’s be Twitter pals! If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Just let me know in the comments. You can find me here

***Let’s connect on Instagram! I so enjoy scrolling my Instagram feed & admiring everyone’s pics. Let me know if you’re on Instagram or find me at this link.

***And, YES, Susan May Warren’s novella Evergreen is a great Christmas gift idea! My high school students loved it! Order the book here.

Here’s another version of the same quote, where I went for a Christmas card look . . .

Advent Susan May Warren(Click to Tweet)

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Just Like Going Home

Renee Ann Smith —  September 7, 2014 — 22 Comments
I'm fourth down on the right: the small blonde child facing the camera

I’m fourth down on the right: the small blonde child facing the camera

 My childhood was marked by large family gatherings, like the Thanksgiving in this photo

I grew up in the same small town as the families of my dad’s three brothers & my mom’s two siblings. My cousins walked the halls of my school with me, and I seemed to stumble over at least one relative every place I went. At one point, of the twenty or so homes on our street & extension, about seven of them housed relatives—granted some were distant.

The presence of my extended family left me with a strong feeling of being loved and watched over, of being part of something good.

Some of my best memories involve family dinners—my four siblings, I, and my parents sitting around the table during those few short years when we were all home and healthy and happy How quickly the time has flown since those days under my parents’ roof.

I enjoyed my childhood, but I truly did not realize what a rare treasure it was until I began teaching. I teach high school English at a small-town Christian school, and I calculated that in our tiny community of 80 kids, 20% of them come from fractured homes &traumatic pasts. Unlike me, their childhoods include abuse, foster care, a parent in prison or on drugs, death of a parent, being raised by grandparents, no father, never met their father, or unhappily married parents who divorced. So they are highly entertained when I share stories from my growing up years!

I enjoy going home again in my mind. I think that’s why I’m drawn to books about large, chaotic, loving families facing life together even after they’re adults. I call it my Walton’s Syndrome.

The latest book to provide my Walton’s Syndrome fix is Deborah Raney’s charming story Home to Chicory Lane.

Chicory Lane is where Audrey & Grant Whitman raised their five kids. Now that those kids are grown, they’ve invested a large part of Grant’s retirement and much sweat equity into transforming their home into a bed & breakfast. The book begins as they’re ready to jump into the new world of innkeeping. However, little do they expect their first—nonpaying!—guest to be married daughter Landyn, who has run back home after a fight with her husband. Though shocked that the newlyweds have run into trouble after just six months, Landyn’s family rallies around her and her husband Chase in a beautiful way.

Because that’s life in the Whitman family—parents, adult kids, and grandkids, supporting each other through tough times with grace, humor & prayer. And then, as Grant says, “Learning to enjoy the lull between catastrophes.”

What I liked best . . .

  • The gentle flow of the story—perfect for a crisp fall day & a cup of tea!
  • The whole idea of running a bed & breakfast (My Lorelai Gilmore Syndrome!)
  • Getting to know the Whitmans & their adult kids (They’ll be featured in more books to come!)
  • Going along for the ride as Audrey & Grant learn to handle scheduling and preparing and unruly guests (even young beauty queens)
  • Seeing their daughter Landyn grow & change as she puts her life back together
  • Speculating on the future relationship between Link & Bree

My favorite quotes . . .

deborah raney quote“We’re just imperfect people trying to follow a perfect God. We try to be obedient to all we know of Him. And we have to trust that He’ll take care of the rest.”

Deborah Raney quote“The more we see Him work in our lives, the easier it will be to trust Him.”

What you should do next . . .

You can grab a copy of Home to Chicory Lane at this link. ***Thanks to Deborah Raney & Litfuse PR for providing a copy for me to review.

Deborah RaneyAbout the author: DEBORAH RANEY’s first novel, A VOW TO CHERISH, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Her books have since won the RITA Award, ACFW Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers’ Choice Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. HOME TO CHICORY LANE released in August from Abingdon Press Fiction. Deb and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy life in Kansas. They have four children and five small grandchildren, who all live much too far away.

You can connect with Deborah . . .

At her website

On her Facebook page

On Twitter

So glad you stopped by to soak in some nostalgia today. Blessings, friends!

***I’ll Tweet your post! I enjoy tweeting the posts and/or graphics of my visitors. If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Let me know in the comments how to find you in the Tweet-world!

***Photo Backstory: I made the quote graphics with images from my account at RGB Stock Photos & tweaked them with PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Continue Reading…