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Love Without Boundaries

Yesterday, I read a devotion from Loop that I can’t forget. I’ll share it at the end of this post, but for now, I want to share the lines that are staying with me, particularly now because of everything happening in our world

“My love in you is what equips you to give freely and love without boundaries. Only when you love freely, with your personality and with your gifts – can My freedom be experienced in you. And that is what people find captivating.”

Loop

We’re living in a time when people are telling us where we can go and what we can do and that, right now, it’s best and safest not to draw physically close to one another.

And this strange reality could shut us down. It could make us close ourselves off and hide away, could make us put up walls that no one could ever hope to get through.

But I think we have an unprecedented opportunity that could put all the darkness of this time to shame.

Yes, we could turn inward and forget about everyone around us.

Or we could love people with an uncommon love and give with an uncommon generosity.

I’ve seen evidence of both, but I’m choosing to believe that the uncommon act of loving without boundaries will prove the stronger.

Because while it’s painful and unknown to not be allowed to gather together, we don’t have to be physically present to love well.

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle towards everyone.”

Titus 3:1-2 (NIV)

So, send a message to someone you haven’t spoken to in a long while. Make a meal and leave it at someone’s door. Create something that will put a smile on people’s faces. Check on your neighbors and show kindness to strangers. (It doesn’t have to be anything grand, just genuine.)

Because the boundaries that are in place really have no power to stop us from loving others at all.

How have you been showing love and generosity in all the madness? I’d love for you to share.

Alexandria

Here’s the Loop devotion if you’d like to read the whole thing:

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Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves: Installment One

A little over a week ago, God gave me a story that I wasn’t expecting to write, a story about a rabbit named Chip.

I knew nothing else about the story until a few days ago when I wrote the first installment of this whimsical little children’s story (though, the more I think about it, the more I believe adults need this story just as much, if not more, than kiddos).

So, here is my offering: a new installment of this story every week, in the hopes that it helps you ask some honest questions and gives you a glimpse into the heart of the Father during a time when I think that’s what we’re learning to treasure most.

Here we go…

Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves

Not so very long ago, on a spring day much like this one, a young rabbit named Chip was waiting for something.

I’d tell you what it was now, but I wouldn’t want to spoil things.

The forest of Everleaf was Chip’s home, and oh, was it the grandest of forests, full of old, strong oaks covered in rich green moss. Rutted paths, nearly overgrown now, carved their way through the land, though it seemed only the animals travelled them.

Everleaf was one of those forests that set the imagination ablaze; the longer you spend walking beneath its boughs, the less surprised you would be to find a fairy flying for cover behind feathery ferns or a group of elves disappearing from view just around the next bend.

And yet, surrounded as he was by the wondrous, Chip was still waiting for just one thing, and it seemed it would never come.

He waited and waited until the sun sank below the treetops and the animals returned to their burrows and nests. The great owl, Nesbit, emerged from the grandest oak in the clearing, and even still, Chip was there.

Blinking his wide, amber eyes several times, Nesbit looked down at the young rabbit. “Still waiting, are we?” he asked with a rustle of his feathers as he settled on his nighttime perch.

“Yes,” Chip replied, not a little disappointed that all his diligence had gotten him precisely nowhere.

“Hmm. Perseverance is what’s needed here, young Chip. Perseverance!” Nesbit proclaimed, startling several disgruntled birds from their dreams.

“Yes, Nesbit. Thank you,” Chip replied, trying very hard to sound grateful. He and Nesbit had the same conversation every night, and the owl’s commanding declaration of “Perseverance!” had yet to make him feel better.

Thankfully, his mother’s clear voice rang out from the entrance of their home at just that moment. After offering Nesbit a quick, “Good night,” Chip bounded away to their cozy burrow, eager for supper after yet another long day spent waiting.

He had only just entered and laid eyes on the feast Mama had prepared when a voice loudly intoned, “Perseverance, my lad! Perseverance!” and Chip nearly jumped out of his skin.

His father appeared, waving a stick in the air with great authority, almost dropping it as he shook with amusement at his own joke.

“Not you, too!” Chip reprimanded, though his laughter soon echoed his father’s.

“Another inspiring speech tonight, I take it?” Joshua teased.

“He means well,” Chip’s mother chided.

“I know, Bess,” Joshua replied with a grin, “but it was worth it for the way this one’s fur bristled in fright when he heard the dreaded cry of, “Perseverance!”

He waved the stick in the air once more, chasing a laughing Chip around the small log table, nearly crashing into it as his son dashed out of reach.

“Now, see here, Joshua Raddish!” Bess cried, though Chip knew she wasn’t really angry. “We spent all day gathering this supper, and I’ll not have you send it flying with your shenanigans!”

A practiced expression immediately transformed Joshua’s face as he and Chip obediently froze. “Of course, Bess, dear. Absolutely no shenanigans here,” he said, carefully setting the stick down on the floor, a look of mischief barely concealed by his mock seriousness.

Bess fixed him with a look that made it clear she was not at all fooled, then turned to their son. “I hope you didn’t fill up on that sweet meadow grass today. Your papa and I have a special treat for your birthday.”

She gestured to the center of the low table, and Chip’s eyes grew wide. Nestled amidst the usual grass and leafy greens was the largest clump of clover he had ever seen and several choice flowers, enough for them to each enjoy two.

“Where did you go to find these?” Chip breathed in awe.

“A fair distance,” his father replied vaguely.

They sat down, all of them eager to enjoy this special meal. Chip rubbed his paw against his left ear as he always did when he was excited or nervous.

Unusual though it may seem, it was Chip’s left ear that had given him his name. On the night he’d been born, Mama always said, he was instantly revealed to be perfect in all ways to them, and that included the chip missing from his left ear.

No one could say why he had been born with it, but it made the young rabbit uniquely Chip, and his parents had immediately known what his name ought to be.

The anticipation now too great for them to wait any longer, Joshua looked up and said a simple prayer. “Without You, we wouldn’t have such a lovely spread before us or,” he continued with a good-natured wink at Bess, “such a warm, shenanigan-free home. We offer You our thanks. Amen.”

“Amen,” Bess and Chip echoed, and they all began to eat, enjoying each delicious flower petal and savory clover leaf.

But prayer had been on the young rabbit’s mind for weeks now, and he couldn’t keep quiet about it any longer.

“Have you ever waited for an answer to a prayer?” he asked in that direct way that only children ever seem to have.

Joshua and Bess were quiet for a moment, exchanging the type of look that only parents ever seem to share.

“Many, many times,” Mama answered, and Papa agreed.

“Well, did you get an answer?” Chip pressed. “Did you get what you asked for?”

“In answer to your first question, yes, in time,” Joshua replied. “As for the second, not always, Chip. But I believe that’s because we don’t always ask for what’s best.”

Chip looked down, thinking hard about what his papa had said.

Joshua chuckled. “Not quite satisfied with that, are you?”

Chip shook his head sheepishly, though he knew Mama and Papa were never angry with him for asking questions.

Joshua ruffled the soft fur between Chip’s ears. “That’s all right, Chip,” he said, his eyes gentle and kind. “You just have yourself an honest conversation with Him before you go to sleep, and things will be getting clearer all the time.”

Chip nodded, kissed his parents good night, and scampered off to bed.

At first, he didn’t take his papa’s advice; he was, after all, an endearingly stubborn little rabbit, and what he really wanted most of all was an answer to the prayer he had whispered weeks ago.

Days and days he had waited, and he just couldn’t seem to let it go. So, Chip tossed and turned and waited and fretted, wondering if the answer he wanted would ever come.

But the longer Chip fretted and the longer he wondered, the more brightly a different question began to burn like fire in his mind, until, at last, Chip sat up and spoke aloud something I imagine we all have thought from time to time.

“I’m changing my question. I’ve waited ages for an answer, and now, all I’m wondering is this:

“Do my words – do my prayers – really matter to You at all?”

Before an answer could arrive, Chip had drifted off to sleep.

*

Chip’s adventures will continue in Installment Two next week.

Until then,

Alexandria

P.S. If you enjoyed the first installment of Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves, please consider sharing this post with friends and family! Thank you!

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Hope & Laughter – Free Resources for Your Family

Life is unexpected right now, to say the least. I felt God prompting me to create a post to share some free resources to help bring some hope and laughter into a chaotic time. Personally, I plan on doing plenty of watercolor painting, coloring, and reading! Here are some other ideas for you and your family:

For the Colorists

Image Copyright Johanna Basford

Johanna Basford creates the most beautiful inky wonderlands that are just waiting for a splash of color! Grab some colored pencils or crayons and give it a go with these free coloring downloads.

She offers loads of tutorials on her website, and if you’re interested in drawing, she also offers a free Inky Art School on Facebook where she teaches you to draw for free!

For the Learners

Image Copyright Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Every day at 3 P.M. EDT, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden will be hosting a Facebook Live where they feature one of their amazing animals and include an activity that your family can do from home! Today, they’re featuring the cutie above, Fiona!

Another great resource is Future Learn!

While you can choose to pay for more features, all of their online courses are free and they offer an incredible variety!

For the Opera Lovers

Image Copyright: Jack Vartoogian, Getty Images

At 7:30 P.M. every night, the Metropolitan Opera is streaming a different opera for free. Crazy for La Traviata? Searching for something to fill your Monday evening? Now’s your chance!

For Sunday Worship and All the Days In Between

On Max Lucado’s Facebook page, he is hosting a time of live prayer and worship each Sunday morning. This is a great opportunity to still participate in a worship service from home!

I also love the First5 app, available for free through Proverbs31 Ministries. Every day, there’s a new five-minute devotion that helps you dive deeper into the Word and understand what it means more clearly! They’ve done everything from Old to New Testament (and they have a plan devoted to the Psalms). You can move at your own pace and catch up any time! It’s a great way to spend the first few minutes of your day with Jesus.

Lastly, here’s a beautiful prayer from writer, Wendy Blight. Hope in the King of kings is what we need most right now, and I think this prayer is a beautiful way to allow God’s peace to replace anxiety in your heart.

If you know of any other free resources for people as we prepare to hunker down, please comment below! Now is the perfect time to be supporting and helping each other through this time however we can.

Lastly, these are the Psalms I’ve been clinging to the last few days: Psalms 23, 27, 91, 93, and 94. So full of the Truth and promises we need right now.

Praying for peace and laughter to settle on your hearts and homes,

Alexandria

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The Wilderness Road

If you had told me six months ago that I would be writing a blog post, I wouldn’t have believed you.

If you had told me that, not only would I be writing a blog post, but that I would also be content and excited about doing it, I’d have laughed.

Six months ago, everything was mapped out in my head. I was going to publish my first book, Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, in serial form. It was going to be a wild success, and who knew what would be next?

But that’s where my plan got all twisted; my idea of success was all wrapped up in popularity, money, approval, you name it.

And God knew it.

“It so happened that after Pharaoh released the people, God didn’t lead them by the road through the land of the Philistines, which was the shortest route, for God thought, ‘If the people encounter war, they’ll change their minds and go back to Egypt.’ So God led the people on the wilderness road, looping around to the Red Sea.”

Exodus 13:17-18

I’m so thankful that He sees what I don’t.

From a worldly perspective, my first attempt at publishing independently wasn’t successful at all. And a month ago (OK, a week), if I’d been brutally honest, I would have had to admit just how bitter and disappointed and honestly stunned I was that this didn’t go how I planned.

Flash forward a few days later to when I actually started listening to what God had to say.

He brought me to two verses in Exodus to show me how I’d begun to wander from what He intends my writing to be and to remind me of how intimately He knows me.

He knew I would get wrapped up in worries and fears about money and success. He knew that my motives would get twisted, all because I was more worried about acquiring approval and having something concrete to show people, so I could say, “Look! See? This whole writing thing is worthy of being taken seriously!”

And I believed the lie that my words are only worthy of consideration if I have a dollar sign or a certain number of likes to hold up next to them.

And He knew, and He waited until I was ready to know it, too.

So, here we are six months later, on a website that’s unexpectedly become a blog. A place to share a love of stories and Jesus and the written word. There’s a lot left to learn about doing this for His glory rather than my own. I’m still being led on the wilderness road, looping around to the Red Sea, still unaware of what exactly is coming next, but certain now that it’s something unexpected and good.

Walk with me?

Alexandria

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Welcome to 21:25 Books

I’ve dreamed of starting a Christian publishing company for a couple years now, and now, it’s official! God led me to John 21:25 on a Sunday morning when I was wondering what on earth was next.

This was His answer: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” Welcome to 21:25 Books, a home for stories and writers who are passionate about filling this world with books about Him and the good things He does.

I’ll share more of my story in the coming days, friend. Until then, welcome! Grab a chair and a warm drink, and let’s settle in to share our love for Jesus and good books.

Alexandria