RSS

Tag Archives: Robin Patchen

A Different Kind of Poverty

clarence-quote

Clarence’s quote from “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

At the food bank where I volunteer, I met a woman whose entire future hinges on her coming up with about $400 in six weeks. Tears filled her eyes as she explained the situation to me. She’s an addict, and she’d been arrested. The judge had given her the opportunity to prove herself sober by taking a drug test each week. He’d ordered her to complete a course. If she did those things, he’d dismiss the felony charges, and she’d walk away with a clean record.

She’d stayed sober, but the drug tests are $50 each. She took the course, but to get the certificate, she has to pay $75. And her lawyer won’t give her any advice, because she has no money to pay him.

Her whole life was on the line for the sake of about $400.

I asked her if she had any family who could help. Nope. She’d burned all her bridges with her family, and they wouldn’t help her any longer.

I inquired about friends, but apparently the people she was closest to were other addicts, and they didn’t have the money to help her and, since she’d quit using, she’d cut off ties with them.

“I know it’s my own fault,” she said more than once. “I brought it on myself. This is what I deserve.”

What she deserves? The thought of getting what I deserve gives me chills. I don’t want justice when it comes to my own sins. I long for mercy and grace.

I have a God who offers both, and I shared that truth with her and prayed for her. I wish I could have done more, but aside from the strict never-give-money-or-rides-to-clients policy at the food bank, if I gave money to everybody who needed it, I’d be a client myself.

So after I gave her some phone numbers to organizations where she could seek help and counsel, we prayed together, she got a few grocery sacks of food, then we sent her on her way.

I couldn’t stop thinking about that woman’s poverty. It wasn’t just her extreme financial need—that’s one kind of poverty, to be sure. What bothered me more was her poverty of spirit. It was her poverty of hope. It was her poverty of relationships.

Tweet this: Poverty comes in many forms: of hope, of spirit, of friends. Even those without money can offer love.

I thank God for the scripture, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:30). She was a woman who understood her own poverty, and I continue to pray that the Lord will reach out to her in her need.

I walked out of the food bank that day thinking of all the people I could call upon if I were in need. I have a family who loves me. I have friends who love me. I have a church that loves me. If I needed $400 and told a few people, I’d have it by noon. Not because I’m something special, but because the Lord has blessed me with wonderful and generous people in my life. And I don’t deserve them. In fact, I deserve no more than that poor woman at the food bank does, but the Lord has shown me mercy and grace despite my egregious sins, and a lot of that has come in the form of the wonderful people he’s put in my life.

So I thank God today for my family and friends. And I hope I always remember that not everybody in the world is as blessed as I am. I pray I’ll be on the lookout for people suffering from poverty—of money, of hope, of relationships, and I hope to have the courage and selflessness to reach out to them when I meet them.

 

DSC_8915-25edRobin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, was a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards and won the 2016 Bookstores Without Borders Lyra Award in the Women’s Fiction category. Its prequel, Chasing Amanda, is currently offered for free at all major retailers. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Considering your Role in an Epic Tale

screen-shot-2016-09-06-at-4-19-28-pmIt’s possible I’m consumed with story.

I make up and write stories for a living. When I’m not writing, I edit other people’s stories. In my free time, I watch stories on TV and at the movies, and I read stories before I close my eyes every night.

All these stories have gotten me thinking—real life is a series of stories, and each story is connected to all the others. And it’s all part of one big story.

An epic tale.

This tale had its beginnings long before you and I drew breath. In fact, it began before those famous words in Genesis, “In the beginning.” It began in the heavens when an angel named Lucifer decided he would be equal with God, and God disagreed.

And there was a war.

And it still rages today.

You and I were born into a world at war, and our stories are episodes within this larger tale. We are living short (relatively speaking) stories that illustrate the great forces that battle all around us.

The tale we’re in makes stories like The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia look like picture books.

And each of us is a character. Writers only create characters who matter to the stories they create. The Author created each of us because we matter in His epic tale.

An amazing thought, isn’t it?

William Shakespeare must have considered this himself when he penned these words in As You Like It: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts…”

I’ve asked myself lately, what part do I play in God’s epic tale? And if I’m meant to play a part, am I doing it right? Or am I missing the epic in the pursuit of my own short-story interests?

What part do you play in God’s epic tale?

 

DSC_8915-25edRobin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, was a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards and won the 2016 Bookstores Without Borders Lyra Award in the Women’s Fiction category. Its prequel, Chasing Amanda, is currently offered for free at all major retailers. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 7, 2016 in Living for God, Robin Patchen, Writing

 

Tags: , , , , ,

The Perfect Response to Facebook Haters

The Perfect Response to Facebook Haters

You know the type. You post something you think is fairly innocuous, and suddenly you get people slinging hateful comments like cow patties. As you read the shocking words, you heart drops, your hands tremble, and your whole body vibrates with anger. Words bubble up from a simmering cauldron you thought you’d taken off the fire years before, and the next thing you know, you’re typing furiously.

You attack. He spars. You’re in a full-blown fight with some Facebook friend you’ve never even met.

And then the dust settles, and you think…what did I just do?

I was in a situation just like this two week ago. I’m still embarrassed by what I said. Not that it wasn’t true. It just wasn’t necessary. Or God-honoring. Or kind.

The next morning, the Lord reminded me of James 1:19. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

I failed, but perusing Facebook lately, I see that I’m not alone. As our nation becomes more divided and as the political race heats up, people are choosing sides and attacking their opponents as if they were armed with clubs and spears instead of black dots on a white screen.

We’re fighting this battle like it’s ours to win or lose—which is contrary to what the Lord teaches in 2 Chronicles 20:15b: “The battle is not yours but God’s.”

We’re fighting this battle as if people are the enemy when Ephesians 6:12 clearly tells us our battle is “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

What truly breaks my heart is when I see Christians engaged in battle against other believers. I’m reminded of a speaker I heard nearly twenty years ago addressing the church. “We have an enemy, folks, and it is not us.”

Believers are not the enemy, even when they disagree with you. Even if you’re absolutely certain they’re wrong and you’re right—and aren’t we all? Truth is, we’re all wrong about lots of things. We are human, after all, and our understanding is limited.

Nonbelievers are not our enemy either. How can those who have never met the Truth know any better? God expects us to love the lost, not attack them.

So what’s the solution when you feel attacked on social media?

  • Don’t fire off an answer immediately, but pause, let the wave of anger pass, and be thoughtful about what you want to say—if anything.
  • If you feel the words someone typed on your page might offend others, delete the comment.
  • Pray for wisdom, and pray for the person who offended you. Wait for the Lord to speak before you say or do anything.
  • If you’re in the wrong, apologize.
  • If you feel you must address something that someone else said, do so privately, as we’re instructed in Matthew 18:15.
  • Have no expectation that the other person will agree with you or repent. If he does, rejoice and be reconciled. If he doesn’t, forgive and, if necessary, step away.

We believers must be very careful during these volatile times to behave in a Christ-like manner. I know how it feels to do this wrong. I’m thankful for God’s grace when I mess up, and it reminds me how important it is to extend that grace to others when they do.

 

Have you been tempted to get involved in arguments on social media? If so, how did it go? What do you do when you see something you disagree with on social media?

*All scriptures pasted from Bible Gateway.

 

DSC_8915-25edRobin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, was recently named a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards and won the 2016 Bookstores Without Borders Lyra Award in the Women’s Fiction category. Its prequel, Chasing Amanda, is currently offered for free at all major retailers. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com.

 

 

 

Tags: , ,

Ruled by Love in a Sea of Stereotypes

no-stereotypesLast weekend I was sitting alone waiting for a play to begin when a lovely woman sat beside me. Somehow we started talking about the plight of the poor in America. She and I had very different thoughts on how to deal with the issues. We were polite, tiptoeing around each other, careful not to offend. Neither of us mentioned candidates—though it was clear where we each stood. We didn’t argue. Instead, we searched for common ground.

You know what? We found it. We were both Christians, both cared deeply about the suffering we saw daily, and both passionate about wanting to help.

But when it came to our political beliefs, we were polar opposites.

I had a conversation the next day. This person, frustrated about something in the political arena, said, “Those liberals are all alike.”

I thought of that lovely ebony-skinned woman. She’d spoken passionately about the people she served. She wanted things to get better, just like I do. She was a liberal, no doubt, but she was beautiful, kind, tenderhearted, and sincere. Was she just like every other liberal in the world? I don’t think so.

Is the wealthy business owner I work with at the food pantry just like Donald Trump? Not at all.

Bring it closer to home, though. Are you just like your siblings and your parents? When you gather for family reunions, do you look around and think, we’re practically clones of each other? When you go to church, are you amazed and how everybody looks, acts, and believes the same?

Of course not. It’s so obvious that we’re all unique, and yet, how often do we hear it?

They’re all alike…

Those politicians

Those Muslims

Those cops

Those blacks

Those gays

Those immigrants

Those Christians

That kind of reasoning is intellectual laziness. It’s insulting not just to the people we’re talking about but to all humanity. It’s a slap in the face to the Creator, who made us each unique and in His image. Every single person has beliefs, ideas, opinions, and dreams, and those have been shaped by their families, their trials, their successes, their friends, their schools, their communities, and countless other things. Each human soul represents a beautiful story that began in the heart of God.

Tweet this: Each human soul represents a beautiful story that began in the heart of God.

Yet I find myself slipping into that thinking sometimes. It’s so easy, isn’t it, to classify people? To disregard them?

I resolve to look beyond stereotypes to the people behind the masks. I resolve to believe that each of us has something unique and valuable to contribute, whether I agree with a person’s politics or his faith or his lifestyle. I strive to, like that sweet woman and I did, respect another person’s beliefs even if I don’t agree. And I resolve not to be offended when he doesn’t agree with me.

In short, I resolve to do my best to be ruled by love. And when I fail–which I do often–I resolve to keep trying.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (Quoted from BibleGateway)

How do you keep yourself from stereotyping people?

Have you ever felt like someone was stereotyping you?

 

DSC_8915-25edRobin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, was recently named a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards and won the 2016 Bookstores Without Borders Lyra Award in the Women’s Fiction category. Its prequel, Chasing Amanda, is currently offered for free at all major retailers. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com.

 

 
9 Comments

Posted by on July 27, 2016 in Living for God, love, Robin Patchen

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Love in the Face of Hostility

Two weeks ago I blogged about how Christians are meant to respond to all the craziness in our culture. Today, I thought I’d explore the question of what it looks like to love a world that’s increasingly hostile to believers.

Many of us have spent decades fighting—rather loudly, in some cases—the people we disagree with. Some of us get on our bully pulpits and preach the truth—that sin is sin and those who don’t repent will be sorry. It’s true, but is that approach effective? Are we who condemn the lost changing the culture? Are we saving sinners?

The snowballing descent into depravity we’ve seen in this country in the last 40 years testifies to the fact that all our yelling and condemnation aren’t doing much good. In fact, that behavior is making us less respected and more abhorred every day.

So what are we to do? How do we love a hostile world?

I think the first step lies with an oft quoted scripture, 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

God is America’s only hope, and we Christians are the only ones standing between America and judgment. Those who hate us don’t believe that—they think we’re the problem. We know the truth, though, that only God can put us back on the right track.

Tweet this: God is America’s only hope, and we Christians are the only ones standing between America and judgment.

Unfortunately, so many Christians have forgotten that—myself included, until recently. We work hard and make money and send our kids to school and volunteer at the church and vote when we’re supposed to. But we dabble in the culture, or steep ourselves in it until we’re so stained by it, we’re hardly different from our non-Christian neighbors.

But we are America’s only hope.

You, dear Christian, might be the only person on your block who has God’s ear. What are you doing with that access?

What am I doing with it?

The first way to love the lost is to obey the scripture above. We must humble ourselves, admit that we have been part of the problem. We must ask God to reveal our sins to us, then repent, because Isaiah 59:2 tells us that our sins separate us from God and hinder our prayers.

We must admit that we Christians have fallen asleep at the wheel, and because of that, the nation has run off the road and is about to plummet over a cliff. We must beg God’s forgiveness for our complacency. We must seek his face, search for him in every situation, and desire his presence above all.

We must seek to fulfill the calling God has placed on our lives rather than running after the false gods the world has to offer. We must, by the grace of God, stop doing the stuff we’re not supposed to do and start doing the stuff we are.

And we must pray for America. Pray for our politicians and bureaucrats, for our schools and institutions and teachers and pastors and business leaders.

We must pray for our community, pray for our coworkers, pray for that gay couple who lives next door. Pray for the teenagers with the too-loud music and the too-short shorts. Pray for the man down the street who lets his grass grow too long. Pray for the addicts. Pray for the elderly. Pray for the middle-aged. Pray for the mothers and fathers and children.

If you do nothing else, the first and best way you can love the lost of this world is to be the man or woman God called you to be, and then to pray for the lost. And pray that the rest of the church follows suit.

 

Do you find it difficult to pray for strangers or people you know dislike you? How do you overcome that those difficulties?

What tips do you use to remind you to pray for America and/or your local community?

DSC_8915-25ed

 

Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, has just been named a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards. Check out its free prequel, Chasing Amanda. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Love in the Age of Insanity

%22By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.%22John 13_35We live in a crazy world.

We live in a world where a madman who aligns himself with Islamist terrorists guns down a nightclub full of people, and immediately, Christians are lectured and, in some cases, blamed for the attack. (One example from the Washington Post.)

Wait, what?

Because of course that lone gunman didn’t reflect the attitudes and beliefs of every single Muslim. So obviously that act of terrorism had nothing to do with Islam.

But if some loudmouth on Twitter spouts off evil speech about the sexual orientation of the victims and attempts to add validity to his hate by bringing the word “God” into the mix, obviously he speaks for all Christians.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting annoyed.

The question is, what are we to do about it? I know what I want to do. I want to defend myself and my fellow Christians. I want to explain that most of us believers couldn’t care less the sexual orientation of the victims. All human beings are valuable and precious. My Jesus died for every single one of the victims, and if they are precious to Him, then they are precious to me. I reacted like the rest of the country–I was horrified. Unlike much of the country, I immediately began praying for the victims and their families, and like many Christians, I continue to pray.

More than just defending Christians, I want to illuminate the ways Christians serve our society. In my community, I could point to multiple charities started and run by Christians—food banks, homeless shelters, outreaches to the poor, free ESL classes for immigrants—legal and illegal. Last week, my church sent hundreds of students to paint homes for free, just to show the love of Christ and give low-income homeowners a gift. My kids came home splattered with paint and joy because of the experience.

I want to remind the world that obviously there will be some rude Christians, just like there are rude people in every group. Becoming a Christian doesn’t make a person perfect, just forgiven. Most (but not all, unfortunately) of those people will mature. Should I judge every Democrat by the worst of that lot? Every Republican? Every banker? Every store clerk?

Tweet this: Christians are called to love in this age of insanity. 

Oh, there are so many things I want to say when I hear the foolishness of the world. But then I remember my God, who tells me that it’s not my place to defend myself. In fact, He has a lot to say on the matter in Romans 12*:

Verse 14: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Verse 17: Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Verse 19: Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Verse 21: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

So it’s not up to me to defend myself or my fellow Christians. And when I remember that my battle is not against people but against the forces of darkness (Ephesians 6:12), it’s easier to forgive the world’s foolishness.

So what are we to do as we live in this age of insanity? We are to love. Jesus said it best: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

We are called to love in the age of insanity.

(*All Bible quotes are from the English Standard Version and copied from Bible Gateway.)

 

DSC_8915-25edRobin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, released in April, and its FREE prequel, Chasing Amanda, released in July. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Stopping for Directions

Greensboro_road_signsAbout a month ago, I blogged about finding contentment on earth. My conclusion: It’s impossible. That blog, as well as the one from two weeks ago about how I react when I read great novels, both stemmed from a general feeling of unease I’ve had lately, the fear that I’m on the wrong track in my career—or my life.

Last week, I decided to seek the Lord’s guidance. Rather than spend my usual two hours every morning writing, I spent that time with the Lord.  Each morning included worship, prayer, and Scripture readings. Most mornings also included a walk through a nearby park. I would enjoy the pretty weather and the wildlife that happened across my path. (Aside from the usual birds and squirrels, I also caught sight of a blue heron, two rabbits, and a turtle. I like to think God brought them just for me.)

I wish I could tell you the hours were all glorious and amazing, but the truth is, often I felt awkward and silly. The first day, I posed a number of questions to God, and he responded with a whole pile of things he wanted me to confess and repent of. That was great fun.

The second day, I never got to all my questions, because the Lord brought to mind all the people in my life who are struggling, and I spent the morning praying for them.

The third day, I was swept away in prayer for my family, which morphed into prayers for our nation, then our world, the words being lifted almost before I knew them.

The week continued like that, me praying about whatever came to mind, mostly about nothing that had to do with the questions that had led me there. It was awkward sometimes, amazing at others. I knew the Lord was with me, and by the end of the week, the questions that had kept me awake at night for weeks seemed unimportant. God had it, and He would lead me.

And somewhere along the way, he did. By Friday, I realized that I knew what God wanted me to do. There’d been no audible voice, no neon sign, but the direction suddenly seemed so obvious, I wondered if I hadn’t known it all along. I’d asked him what story I should work on next. During the week, he gave me a general plot for one, answering the question. I’d asked him about another project, and by the end of the week, I had a first step.

Turns out, the week of praying wasn’t about finding answers at all. It was about seeking God’s face and trusting that the leading would come. I wish I had a blueprint for the next five years. But now I know the next few steps. Beyond that, I’ll trust him to lead.

Isaiah 30:15 reads, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” The Israelites ignored God’s advice—we know this, because the next line says, “But you would have none of it.”

But God encouraged them. Just a few verses later read:

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore, he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help… Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:18, 19, 21).

The week I spent with God was about repentance and rest, quietness and trust. I shouldn’t be surprised that he responded by giving me directions for my life. Doesn’t he always keep his promises?

What do you do when you need direction from the Lord?

Do you have any similar stories to share?

 

DSC_8915-25edRobin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, released in April, and its prequel, Chasing Amanda, released in July. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com.

 

 
19 Comments

Posted by on May 18, 2016 in Robin Patchen, Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,