Are you living an “inspired by” or “based on” faith?

Have you noticed how more movies are using the reference of “inspired by” rather than “based on” in their titles or description?

I happened to notice it this week, while watching a movie about the life of Saul and later a series on the Revolutionary War. Both described their films as “inspired by” – one by scripture and the other by the events of that time.

A lot of faith-based movies use “inspired by”, including the recent Bible series on the History Channel and movies like Noah and Son of God. Yet for a historical series? Why not use “based on”? Did the writers not have enough detail to write about actual people or events?

Though I felt like I had a pretty good idea of the difference, I decided to do some research on how the film industry looks at the two. I found a film production blog post, titled “Based On” vs. “Inspired By”; A Degree Of Fictionalization” which states:

“The terms “based on” and “inspired by” suggest very different standards of adherence to the facts providing the ideas for a film and the degree of fictionalization used to enhance the story, change the narrative, or make the film more marketable.”

So while films that are “based on” actual events generally tend to be written around core elements, such as the events, themes and  characters, that serve as representations of themselves, films that are “inspired by” actual events are primarily fictional, but the writer owes his or her idea for the film to something that took place in reality.

That description made me wonder why so many Christian films that are “inspired by” the Bible, can’t actually be written to be “based on” the Bible. Do the film writers think that more people will jump on the Jesus bandwagon if they take some liberties with the stories found in scripture? Or that people who study the Bible wouldn’t notice those liberties? Is it even a big deal, as long as the movie was enjoyable and drew people to see it?

It got me thinking about faith in general. Now before I go any further, I am not writing this to preach at people. As I start to look at 2016, I am seriously looking at my own spiritual growth – where I am and where I want to be!

Do I live my faith “inspired by” or “based on” the Bible, or on the teachings of Jesus? Do I take the easy, enjoyable, likable parts – the ones that don’t cause me too much pain or to make too many changes in my life? Or do I live by ALL the parts of the Bible and all that Jesus calls me to be?

Wow, that’s a hard one. No one is perfect – especially me! So I guess the question is what are my intentions with my faith?

I’ve talked to people who have studied the Bible and been followers of Jesus for most of their life. Some will honestly tell you that they still struggle with certain things. Maybe with fear, anxiety or anger, or in surrendering themselves to Christ, or forgiving someone who wronged them or loving those who are hard to love? Yet they live their lives “based on” their faith, so that there is no doubt they have accepted and follow Christ as their Savior and Redeemer, even as they struggle with some aspects of his teaching.

Then there are those who may have gone to church for some period of their life – or maybe their whole life – and still live their lives only “inspired by” their faith. That was me while I was growing up and through most of my adult years. Believing, but not living my faith. Kyle Idleman (author of Not a Fan) calls these “fans” of Jesus. They recognize Jesus, maybe even accept him. They sing the worship songs, attend the services and even allow some level of Jesus into their lives – but only to a point. Not to the point where the deeper changes matter, or the surrender occurs. Not to the point of “following” Jesus.

I want to be a FOLLOWER of Jesus.

I want that more than anything. I want Him to come first in my life and for me to live that that faith out, every day of my life.

In the past I have allowed my fear of what people will think and what they might say, to lead me to only quietly live my faith. No more! I want to embrace his love for me. I want to share that love with others!

While I have made my spiritual life more of a priority these past few years, I still struggle. I still worry and I don’t pray as much as I ought to, or study His word as much as I would like. Yet in my heart, I am growing closer in my relationship with Jesus every day. I can feel it!

In looking to 2016, I am taking stock of where I am in my spiritual journey, setting my priorities and asking Him for the strength to trust more, love more and to surrender myself! Through Christ, all things are possible!

I close with these lyrics from one of my favorite songs:

Live Like That ~ Sidewalk Prophets

Am I proof
That You are who you say You are
That grace can really change our heart
Do I live like Your love is true

People pass
And even if they don’t know my name
Is there evidence that I’ve been changed
When they see me, do they see You

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I’ll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that

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Back to WordPress I go!

You know how sometimes things look good when you first see or hear about them. It could be a new health kick, a fashion trend or the latest something or other. Whatever that thing is, it looks new and interesting and different? So you try it out. Then after a while, you realize that whatever that new thing is, it isn’t better – it’s just new or interesting or different. And then you lose interest or just move …

Well I tried a new website for posting, as part of a 60 day writing challenge. For a number of reasons, I made it through 27 days of posting then hit a wall. Illness, commitments, workload, the holidays and brain-fog just stopped my writing in it’s tracks. When I finally got back to writing, my awe of the new site had greatly diminished. So here I am, back home on WordPress – happy and content and ready to begin writing again.

I’ve copied all of my posts from my writing challenge from the “other” site, here on Lovin’ Life and I’m ready to get back on track as we enter 2016!

My writing challenge, however, is changing as well.

Writing daily was a pressure I wasn’t prepared for. Major kudos and much admiration for the family member who got me started on that journey and who personally is coming up on completing her 365 day writing project. I am completely in awe of her and her writing talent. For me, though, I’m guessing I kind of jumped into it without putting as much thought into the process as I should have…and failed!

Yet it wasn’t really a failure at all. I wrote, it felt good and I was happy with the output. It reminded me how much I LOVE to write. So after a little tweaking in my thought process, I’m thrilled to be back at it!

For 2016 I am shooting to write at least once  week. I’m being realistic with my goals for the new year – I find I am more successful that way. Some may say to shoot for the moon. Set lofty goals to really push yourself to achievement. I say this is what works best for me…

…and much prayer!

So begins a new year of writing. Writing for fun. Writing to share. Writing to help me along my journey of growth!

My prayer for you – a very happy, healthy and exciting New Year to everyone! See you in 2016!

 

 

 

 

 

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What I Am Most Thankful For — Quiet Time (D27)

Today I am thankful for quiet time…and Chicken Noodle Soup!

Like many people, my life can get really busy. Family and friends, work, home, projects, volunteering — whew! Making time for everything can get hectic, especially around the holidays.

I have made some good strides over the past few years in reducing the chaos that the holidays can bring. Not quite so many commitments on the calendar, reasonable decorating plans and returning to more sensible gifting has helped a lot. Still, we can’t always account for those things we don’t have control over.

Like getting a good, old-fashioned, kick you in the behind cold!

Yep, I’m sick. It started the day before Thanksgiving as a simple tight chest and sore throat and has since derailed all the plans I had for this holiday weekend. A weekend that I had planned to get so much done — all my shopping, my decorating and all my other normal Thanksgiving weekend fun. All quite doable, in a four day time frame. Instead, I’ve spent the past few days flat out, no energy and mostly by myself.

Worried that I might share this unfortunate joy with my husband, I’ve been happy to see my him continue with his plans. Anything to get him out of the house and away from my germs! At the same time, being on my own and not being able to do anything, can be nerve wracking. Thinking of all the things I should be doing, rather than laying around. Trying to figure out when my to-do items would now get done, in the time I have available. I could feel this familiar twinge of stress starting to build.

Then I began to think about those who were dealing with much more than I was, this holiday season. Illness, healing, loss and difficult obligations. Close friends and family who are dealing with things that are so much more important than the minor scheduling setback in my life. It really puts things into perspective!

And so I embrace my quiet time. To catch up on reading, to write and to simply sit back and enjoy the silence — in a season so filled with light and sound. To heal, and then to know that I will get done what I truly need to, without stress or worry. To pray for those who are going through their own trials at this holiday season.

I believe we build out relationship with Christ in our quiet times. No distractions, nothing we have to rush to. Just time with out thoughts, thanking Him for all His blessings and for the time to quietly take stock!

If God was sending me a message today, it came in the form of a text — telling me to check my front door. There lay a bag, filled with hot chicken noodle soup and rolls. A familiar face waving from the car of the angel who left it. Just what I needed today at just the right time! My blessings abound!

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What I Am Most Thankful For — Moments (D26)

Today I am thankful for the moments that make up my life!

Our lives are made up of moments. A collection of different experiences, memories, activities and situations — that strung together, help to make us who we are. And like a photo album, we gather these moments in a place where we can pull them out, reminisce about them, cherish them and even cry over them.

For most, an album keeps track of mainly happy moments. Yet a person’s life album is filled with all of our moments. Good, bad, happy, sad, joyous, debilitating, momentous, mundane — a collage of emotions. What we do with those emotions, how we place them in our life “album” and how we react to them when we take them out, can set the tone for how we view life.

It’s the ebbs and flows, the ups and downs, that help us to grow. How we handle the lows has an affect on how we handle the highs. We cannot thrive on only one or the other. We need both to help us learn from and appreciate each.

I don’t know anyone who has had a life of only good or bad moments. Not one! Though how we embrace life within those moments is the challenge. In low moments, it can be very hard to see that a good moment may come at any time. Yet, Eventually, it does. Then we can get too comfortable and pray that the low moments do not return. Yet, eventually they do.

It’s not easy, but I’m trying embrace to embrace all of my moments— the good and the bad. When the good moments come, I try to intentionally give thanks for them and appreciate them as they happen. When the low moments come, I pray! To ask God for the strength to walk through that moment and to ask Him to show me what I am meant to learn from it. In all moments, I try to remember them with perspective — understanding that they all play a part in my life. And that no single moment — outside of accepting Christ — defines my life.

Romans 5:3–5 (MSG) says — “There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary — we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

So I will praise Him in all moments. Each individual moment — good and low. I know that each moment is a gift from God, and all together they make up the album of my life! And I will give thanks!

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What I Am Most Thankful For — Encouragers (D25)

Day three of my week of thankfulness!

I am thankful for those who encourage me!

Most of my life I have been a person who likes to be comfortable. I’m not talking about a nice cushy couch or a chair you can sink into, though those things are also very nice! I’m talking about feeling comfortable — around those we spend time with, in our surroundings and in the things we do. I would allow my need for a certain comfort level to determine what I did, where I went and who I did things with. If I wasn’t sure how I would like something, or if I would be good at something or not, I usually didn’t try.

The sad part of that is that sometimes that need for comfort leads to us missing out on opportunities.

In the last couple of years, I made the decision to surround myself with encouragers. Family and friends who challenge me to try new things. Not in a pushy way, but in a way that helps me see the benefit of just trying.

In simpler things, enouragers have led me to try painting, learning to build websites and going more green. To learn new ways of cooking and organizing, to try reading different authors and listen to and discuss view points that are not the same as mine. Whether it’s taking classes, learning on my own or from others, each new thing I’ve tried has been interesting. Some I am ok at, others not so much. In either case, I have enjoyed the learning experience.

There are also some profound impacts that encouragers have had in my life.

Encouragement helped me find my way back to my faith, after having been away for more than 30 years. Some had tried to motivate that return through guilt and scare tactics, which did nothing for me. It was an encourager, who saw how I was needing that faith back in my life, who took the time to just talk to me about it and share their experience. Of all the changes in my recent life, that has been the most important and impactful!

Encouragement helped me to step out of my comfort zone to participate and eventually take a lead in a ministry group, helping me to see how my experiences could be of help to others. These same encouragers helped lead me to useful bible studies, and then to a small group, that allow me to continuously grow in my relationship with Christ each day!

Encouragement led me back to writing. I work in a very technical and procedural environment. For me, writing is an outlet. A way to express my creative side. I’ve written on and off for years — some just-for-fun topics, but mostly about my feelings and life lessons I’m learning. I might do it for a while, but then would stop when I became too concerned with what people thought of my writing, how it was received and whether or not it touched people.

It was an encourager, who in starting her own writing project a while back, encouraged me to do the same. It was the nudge I needed to restart, push past the need to write for others and enjoy the comfort to just write for myself. Writing has helped me through some major life changes and doing it again has been very rewarding. If some people enjoy my writing, or get something from it, that’s great. If not — even if not one person read a thing I wrote — I still feel the benefit of doing it.

So to all those who have ever uttered a word of encouragement, no matter how big or small — Thank You.

To those who step out of their own comfort zone, to encourage another — Thank You.

And to those who take the time, to see unexplored potential in others, to help someone limited by their fears or who just needs a boost in their confidence to try something new — Thank You!

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What I Am Most Thankful For — GriefShare (D24)

Day two of my week of thankfulness!

I am grateful for my GriefShare group!

It has been almost a year and a half since losing both of my parents.

When my Mom passed, I felt lost. She was my confidant. The first person I wanted to call when anything happened, good or bad. The person who listened without judgment. Who, even though having hard times herself, would always perk up when I called and would perk me up when I was having a down-day. Losing her was the hardest thing I have ever had to face.

In the weeks following her death, I quickly returned to my day to day life. That seemed to be what I thought would help the best. I stop short of saying things returned to normal, because nothing was normal. I lived a distance from Dad, and while my sisters more locally cared for his daily needs, I tried to step in to support him emotionally. Many phone calls and check-ins became part of my new routine, as well as trying to help in him moving to a new normal in his life.

In those weeks after her death, I did all I could to focus on work and my Dad’s situation. For a little bit, that focus helped to keep my mind off what I was feeling. Yet it wasn’t long before that pain really started to dig in. I couldn’t concentrate and found myself having difficulty remembering things or even finishing a sentence. I found myself disconnecting from people and activities. I felt drained and unable to deal with anything more. I would cry at the drop of a hat, lose my temper over the most ridiculous things, found myself being less tolerant of people and sometimes, I just felt comatose!

Our church had begun it’s first GriefShare program just a week before my Mom passed. When I was back home, following the funeral, I was told about the program and asked, if I felt up to it, to sit in on a meeting. At the time I felt like I was doing ok on my own. It was in those later weeks, without yet knowing what was about to come, that I knew I needed to reconsider.

I attended a meeting and then another. Though it was hard to address the feeling I was having, I felt like I needed to be there — even if I wasn’t yet able to contribute much, or understand a lot about the journey that had started.

Then the unthinkable happened. My Dad passed very unexpectedly, just 5 months later. I felt like I couldn’t make sense of things. I went through the motions to handle arrangements, but inside I felt empty, orphaned and left with a huge hole in my family. I didn’t know what to do — with the emotions I was feeling, the anger, the regret and the worry. So I went back for a second session of GriefShare.

GriefShare helped me in ways that my friends and family couldn’t. The videos helped me to understand that we all grieve differently and no two journeys are exactly the same. They also helped me understand what I was feeling and how to handle those emotions. The workbook, in my private time, helped me with how I was looking at certain situations I was dealing with, and provided scripture that helped to sooth my heart and give me strength. The other participants helped me to know I wasn’t alone and they provided a place where I could speak honestly and openly about how I was doing.

I found indescribable comfort and clarification through GriefShare and I may never be able to truly express what this group has done for me. After two full-length program sessions to help myself, I knew that I wanted to share that comfort with others who were dealing with the pain of loss. So I joined the GriefShare ministry and now help to coordinate and run the program for our church.

In our group session last evening, we talked about not allowing grief to become our identity. While we are people who are experiencing the pain of grief, it is not the sum of who we are or who we will be. It can be very easy to get so caught up in grief that it takes over our whole life. It becomes all we talk about, all we think about and we can lose hope.

GriefShare taught me that I am not my grief. I experience sadness, and that will most likely last the rest of my life, but I can move forward and learn to have those memories without the pain. And if I can share that truth with others, then let that be part of my testimony!

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What I Am Most Thankful For — Friends (D23)

For this last week of November, in my writing project, I’ve decided to pick 7 things that I am most thankful for. I will write about one each day — though I’m not sure they will be in any specific order of gratitude!

So here is day one!

I am grateful for my friends!

I have friends all over the country. Some are very close friends, some are friendships formed through work or other associations I’ve been involved with. Some are people I’ve met along my travels and some that I’ve just met through happenstance. Some I keep in contact with quite frequently, some I may not have contact with for long periods of time. Some friends know me in a very deep way, and others are more simple acquaintances.

I am thankful for them all!

In some of the most difficult times of my life, my friends have been there to pull me through. In the more joyous times, they have been there to celebrate with me. And in the everyday times, they have been there to be companions, to encourage and uplift me, to hold me accountable, to show me love and to simply listen!

I have never been one to base my worth on the number of friends I have. While I am grateful for everyone I have had a friendly relationship with over the years, I am most thankful for the small group of friends who I have the deepest relationships with. The friends who know everything about me — good and not so good — and they care for me anyway, and with all their heart. I love them like family — my brothers and sisters from a different mother! These are the people who I can count on in any circumstance and I would do the same for them!

The love I have for these friends in no way diminishes those friendships that are not as close. If I’ve learned anything over the last few years, it is that people will surprise you. Sometimes, when you least expect it, a person will come from nowhere and be just the person you needed in your life at that moment. They may come and go, but some may turn into one of those close friends that you come to cherish.

No matter what the level of relationship, we all need friends in our life. So this Thanksgiving season, I thank God for each person he has put in my path — close or long distance, deep or acquaintance — they all have a place and they all make a difference!

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