20 Years Later…Remembering 9/11, Lighting the Candle of Hope #9/11 #WeWillNotForget

So here we are, 20 years later, remembering the horrific act of terrorism that shook our nation and left us all in a state of shock as we grieved those who were lost, as well as the brave emergency responders who gave their lives trying to save them. This is adapted from my original post a few years ago, and although a lot has changed since then, some things will never change. Among them, the power of our unchanging God, the love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and His Light in our hearts, and the truth of His Holy Word. Mine is only one story. What’s yours? What if we all lit someone else’s candle?

“Five years from the date of the attack that changed our world, we’ve come back to remember the valor of those we lost—those who innocently went to work that day and the brave souls who went in after them. We have also come to be ever mindful of the courage of those who grieve for them, and the light that still lives in their hearts.”
—New York City mayor ­Rudolph Giuliani at the World Trade Center site in 2006

 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” – John 8:12

September 11, 2001. One of the darkest days in American history. According to Wikipedia, 2,996 people were killed immediately, including those on the four planes, the World Trade Center and surrounding area, and the Pentagon. Many more have since died, due to their injuries, or cancer from inhaling the toxic dust. Of course, this number varies, depending on what source you read it from, and when it was written. One thing is for certain: it was a terrible, dark day for all of us, especially those who lost loved ones that day. We must never forget, but continue to reach out to one another, to pray for the families who lost their loved ones, and, to hold the light of hope in our hearts as we remember those  we lost that day. And lest we forget, here is just my little contribution, a little of where I was when “the world stopped turning” on that terrible “September day”…

I was less that 2 months from turning 36. My children were 15, 13, and 9. I was working at Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse in Clayton, NC, at what we around here call the Hwy 40/42 area (where NC Hwy 42 intersects with I-40, which goes into Raleigh, NC). I was just about to turn onto I-40, going to work, when I heard something on the radio about a “plane crash”. Of course, mostly concentrating on my driving, at that point, I had no idea of the seriousness of what I was hearing. At work, around the store, the atmosphere was somber. There was just a strange quietness. As my customers all kept talking about it throughout the day, it was only then that I began to realize just how serious it was. I went home and for the next couple of days, all I could do was sit in front of the TV, my eyes glued to the screen, and my mouth open, in a state of shock. As the days and weeks passed, I remember I was literally scared. I was scared to death, especially in the first few days after the attacks, as I think no doubt, everyone was. Were they going to come here and attack us next? Would there be more attacks?

As the years passed, my kids grew up and my daughters now have kids of their own, my youngest is now working on her 2nd masters, and teaching Intro to Psych at ECU. Things changed, people have moved on, I’ve gone through a couple of divorces, lost my husband and high school sweetheart, Keith, to Covid, and survived it myself as well as breast cancer by God’s grace. Our family has lost a few more members over the years, and there have been a few new additions as well. I have since completed an Associate’s Degree in Office Systems Technology, which has provided me skills that have helped me tremendously with my writing. I’ve published 3 books, (though I discontinued the first 2), and started my own imprint. My latest, CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door (Resuscitating the Christian Heart…Yes, Your Ship is Coming In!) is available on Amazon in print and Kindle, and in hard cover on B&N. I am getting ready to release a new 35th Anniversary Revised Edition, so stay tuned on that one. More books are coming as the good Lord leads me.

Yet, every year at this time, I cannot help but think of the sadness this day always brings, especially to those who lost family members or friends in this horrible, cowardly attack on the American people. After all, they were not lost to just their families or friends; they were lost to all of us. Over 3,000 families are still grieving those they loved who were killed that day. All those people spent that last evening of September 10, 2001 with their families and loved ones, never knowing it was their last night with them. They got up and went to work that morning with no idea of what was coming. They sent their children off to school that next morning and kissed them good bye for the last time. Those on the planes had to call or text their loved ones, in tears as they faced the shock of explaining to them that they knew they were about to lose their lives. I could go on, but there is no room here…

I’m sure what most of us may have been through pales drastically in comparison to what the victims of the events of 9/11 experienced that day. The scars will be on the hearts of their surviving family members for the rest of their lives. Even though for us, life went on, for them, every year, this day is a dark reminder when all the painful memories come flooding back. Yet all of us have “a story”. You may not think it’s much to offer, but a story left unshared will not help anyone. It’s not what we’ve been through, or who’s been through the worst tragedy, or even who may be hurting the worst. It’s the power of healing that comes from sharing the Light of Christ’s love with others who are hurting. It’s the knowing that no matter what any of us have suffered, His love and healing, restoring power is greater and stronger than any of it. It’s the candle of hope that lights up from one heart to the next as we each share what He has done for us and help them to understand the ways that same healing power can help them.

So wherever you are, if you can tell your story, or light a candle, write a book, or even just write your testimony in a tract or blog post, or just say a prayer for the families and friends of each one of the people who were lost that day, then the light of hope will start to flicker, then burn brightly, into an eternal flame of hope. It is the hope that unites the American people. Because when you mess with any of our people, you are messing with all of us. Jesus told us that in the last days, these tribulations would come…

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. – Matthew 24:3-14

…But we must remain strong, encourage one another, pray for one another, and share our story, however little or great it might be, and we must begin to link hands all across this once great nation, and form a chain of prayer, and let the light of hope flicker, becoming the eternal flame of that hope that unites us all, and stand strong. It is that hope that will help us “endure to the end”, and perhaps relight the candle of hope, for those who have lost it. I guess you could say it’s kind of like, if each of us shares a little of our story, maybe it’s kind of like all of us lighting a “candle” in memory of those who were lost that day, as well as those who have died since from their injuries or sickness caused by the toxic dust and fumes from the disaster, etc. Perhaps, even if but a small flicker of hope arises from one of us sharing our story, it becomes the eternal flame of hope that will light someone else’s way. To me, it is like saying, I am only one person, but I am here, and I care, because to me, each precious life that was lost that day was an American citizen, a father, a mother, a husband, a wife, a brother, a sister, a son, a daughter, and the list goes on.

A lot has happened in the 20 years since that dark day. Covid has taken many of those we loved, including my husband. Only 3 months later, strokes took my precious mother. Cancer and other things have taken many others. Still, so many who have been left behind are left feeling the pangs of grief, depression, and hopelessness, and too often, we have left them to wonder if anyone cares, because too many times, we let the enemy trick us into feeling we are too far gone or traumatized to help anyone else. Jesus knew we would have tribulations in this time, and He had this to say…

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

There is a kind of healing we ourselves can experience in allowing God to use our own pain to help others, and Jesus knew this. If we look at the bigger picture, as we trust in Him and wait on Him to renew our strength as Isaiah 40:31 reminds us, we will find ourselves “mounting up with wings as eagles”, and soaring high above the storms, just as they do. Only then will we find ourselves rising above the storms our Lord said we would endure in these days before His return, and discovering the peace He promised us that is out of this world (See John 14:27 and Philippians 4:6-7). Once we do, if His love is in us, we won’t want to keep it to ourselves, but we will take that Light that is in our hearts and light someone else’s candle with it. Just think of what a better world we could make it if each of us did that. After all, it’s been said that a candle loses nothing of its light by lighting another candle.

I know this is more of a Christmas seasonal song, but I still felt the message was perfect for what I am trying to say here. May we never forget the victims of that terrible day, the children who had to grow up without parents and all of those who lost someone they loved that day. May we each light a candle of Christ’s love and reach out to those who are hurting, say a prayer for those whose families were forever broken that day, and all we have lost since. Whether it’s through this senseless attack on our nation, or Covid, Cancer, or something else that has caused the loss of someone you love, let us remember that we have all lost someone. We have all suffered in these times we are going through, and our Lord, Jesus said it would be this way. But if we remember, our God has not surrendered His authority, nor fallen off His throne, He is still in control, and according to the last page of my Bible, He wins, then we know that if we are on His side, we are on the winning side!

Where were you that September day? What will you do to help light someone else’s candle of hope today? After all, if we have the Light of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in us, then it is not our own light we are sharing with them, but a part of His Light. And that Light is sufficient to cover us all. It is ours for the asking, and the peace that comes with it is out of this world. He said so Himself.

The Wisdom of Fruit Trees: God’s Plan for You in 2021!

Hello, and blessings to you in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ! Let me first start out by saying, I hope that you and your family had a wonderful and blessed Christmas and…

Happy New Year!

And I don’t just mean that in the traditional sense. I am speaking it over you and your family in Jesus’ name! The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21 that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” 3 John 2, NKJV, also says, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” So, I am starting this year off right. I am speaking life! That said…

I know that if you are anything like me, you are probably thinking something like, “well, we tried that last New Year’s Eve, and you see where it got us.” I know. I get it. I lost my precious husband and my dear mother in 2020, my husband due to complications from Covid, as he was immune suppressed, and unable to recover from the damage it did to his lungs, and my mother from strokes. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t suffered some type of tragedy or great loss and hardship in this past year. As a matter of fact, I don’t know too many people who have much of anything positive to say about 2020. In fact, I’m pretty sure many, myself included, have had thoughts of giving up…

But wait!…

Now, let’s just back that up a minute…(insert sound of brakes screeching, like when you didn’t see the stop sign – Go ahead and go YouTube that if it makes you feel better, just be sure to come back. You DON’T wanna miss this Word God gave me this morning for you). What if…WHAT IF…. there is a more positive way to look at all of this? (Seriously, you’re not going to give all these trials this past year threw at us that much power over you, are you?) I know I’m not! I said the rear view mirror of my life was torn off, and I’m not sitting here trying to glue it back on! Take a few minutes to listen to this song…

It ain’t over till GOD says it’s over!!!

The first time I heard this song, it was a home video of a little girl whose mother recorded her singing it and, with permission, shared it on Facebook. It was such a powerful message to me. A couple of nights later, I even dreamed that I was hearing that video being played, and I could hear the little girl singing it. I wrote the mother an encouraging message telling her how much it had touched me and thanking her for sharing it….

Look. I know that if you’re anything like me, you probably have a few choice words you could say to this past year (if only it were a person, let’s face it, some of us watched too many of those old cartoons). I can tell you, my husband and I certainly would not have been welcoming in the year 2020 so joyfully on New Year’s Eve a year ago if we had known what it would bring. But it’s not a person, and well, we can’t turn back time. I think we all can identify with these feelings. I’m pretty sure many of us who suffered significant losses in this past year would agree that in a sense, we kind of woke up on New Year’s Day feeling much like someone in the wake of the damage after a tornado or hurricane, surveying the damage it has left behind. But let’s just turn it around and see if we can’t get a more positive perspective on it all, shall we? (Go ahead and go do that brake screech thing again if you want. Again, just come back, you DON’T wanna miss this! 🙂 )…

I’m sure if we really think about it, we could come up with some good things we did in 2020. Or better yet, ways that God did bless us to make it through – you’re still here, right? Or you wouldn’t be sitting here reading this. The topic for our Women’s Conference at our church a couple of years ago was, “Kept”. Our speakers dove in to the study of the women in the Bible who were “kept women”, kept by God Himself through the various trials they went through. And God left His fingerprints all throughout the pages of time, in that we can learn powerful lessons from their stories. So, what all has God “kept” you through this past year? The best way we can break the enemy’s power to use these trials and heartaches we have endured over us is to give God the praise for the ways He has kept us through these things. What has He kept you through this past year? What is one good thing you have done in 2020? Here’s my list:

  1. I published a powerful book of my testimony of my Near Death Experience in a car accident that will help people who have been through traumatic events and are giving up on their faith – you can check it out here!
  2. I survived Covid. God healed me so that I could be here to encourage you, and bring more fruit in for Christ’s kingdom.
  3. I celebrated a year being healed and delivered from breast cancer.
  4. I finished a new book (fiction) that my dear late husband, Keith, and I worked on together that we both felt will help people see that no life is too hopeless for God to change. It’s still in the editing stages, so it’s coming soon!
  5. I have seen God’s provision in powerful ways in every area of my life since my husband’s passing, the more I put Him first.
  6. I have learned from it all through His grace, and yielded all the broken pieces to Him, so He can use my story to help you too.
  7. I have more great inspirational books coming, and I have accepted His call to yield my life to ministry to others, and I could not be more excited about all He is going to do through me in 2021!

I believe if we think about it, we can all list some ways God has kept us through the storms of this past year, and the good things that did come out of it all, and in so doing, break the enemy’s power to use it to destroy us any further. That is simply “baggage” we are not going to drag into 2021. So, now, I will share with you the Word that God has given me, something I think will help us all. As a matter of fact, I felt His Holy Spirit nudging me earlier as I had my devotions, clearly letting me know, He had given me a Word and that He expected me to share it. So here goes. But first, I’ll give you a little more background information, so it will make more sense…

A LITTLE BACKGROUND INFORMATION: THE GARDEN OF YOUR HEART: A few years ago, as my husband and I found a good church and began to draw closer to God, He showed me a vision one morning that clearly let me know where I stood with Him. I think it will help you too, because I feel most of us can probably identify with this. So I saw what was supposed to be the “garden of my heart”. If you’ll just pick up your Bible and start reading it, you’ll see that Christ, our Lord Himself gave us teachings from this perspective. A good place to start is Matthew, Chapter 13. In this chapter, Jesus gave the Parable of the Sower. He led me to this several times over a period of time, and each time, His challenge was the same: “Which one are you?” For too long, I have been one to let too many of the “stones” the enemy had thrown into my path discourage me. I wasn’t standing on the Word as I should have been. If we keep on like this, those stumbling stones are what the enemy will use to snatch the Word away, so that it can’t be implanted deep into that soil of our heart’s garden. I also went for too long in the earlier years of my life not having the deep “rooting” of God’s Word in my life, so when those trials of life came, I didn’t have the root of that Word to guide me through it. —> (SPECIAL DEVOTIONAL SUGGESTION: I highly recommend sitting down with your family discussing this section of Christ’s teaching in Matthew 13. Don’t point fingers or judge each other. Just read it together, and talk about which of those types of soil characterizes that “garden” in each of your hearts. Then, pray together about it, and ask God to show you all ways to get that deep rooting in His Word that will help you grow stronger and stand together through the trials that may come. Get back together, in, say, a week or two, and talk about ways each of you have grown stronger in these areas. Give thanks as a family for the ways He has helped you grow together.)

So, what I saw, as far as the “garden of my heart” was a barren, desolate place, with dry, hardened, cracked ground. Nothing was growing. There was no “fruit” being produced. Then, I saw the “gate”, and Jesus standing on the other side of it, and what He said to me changed everything for me that day. He said, “I want to help you, but you have to let Me in first.” Did you get that? It is we who have to open that gate and let Him in. You see, for too long, I was, as I talk about in my book, “CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door”, a strong-willed, stubborn, hard-headed little Ms. Independent who thought I knew how to handle life on my own. There are a lot of things that can make us that way. For years, I had been made to feel worthless and this eventually led to the mind trap of approval seeking, and way too much allowing my attitude, thoughts, and actions to be controlled by what others thought of me, etc., etc…

Now, I know better. That’s the “old” me. Let’s take a look at what Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:20-24: “But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:  that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,  and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (NKJV) Now, let’s look at 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (NKJV)

This means that if we are in Christ, meaning, walking in His promises of His Word, and we have truly opened the gate of that garden of our hearts, then, and only then, He can come in and transform all of that barren, unproductive ground into a beautiful, lush garden, full of trees producing loads of fruit for Him. But He is a gentleman. He will not force Himself on anyone. It is you, and I, who must make that decision to open that gate of our hearts and let Him in. So, I began to get more deeply into prayer with Him, and I opened that gate of my heart as I finally realized I couldn’t do it on my own, and that has made all of the difference.

In the aftermath of all that had transpired in the past year, I will admit that I had, for a time, hardened to the point that I thought I had lost something very precious to me. I didn’t hear God speaking to me in the mornings when I woke up anymore. Truth is, I hadn’t lost it, or Him. He was right there all along, just as He is with each of us who will open that gate of our heart’s garden and let Him in. But when we start to try to handle things on our own again, look out! This is what the enemy wants. Over time, he sows his weeds of doubt, despair, and hopelessness, and even tries to make you think you can’t hear from God anymore. So, as I began to pray more and get back into seeking a closer relationship with the Savior, and put Him first again, and LET HIM HANDLE THINGS, instead of letting the enemy fool me into trying to handle it on my own (see Proverbs 3:5-6), I began to awaken in the mornings hearing my gentle, loving Savior there again, speaking to me, showing me things, and guiding me. What came to me from the Holy Spirit this morning is going to change your perspective on this coming year, just as it has mine. And now, the Word He has given me for you for 2021…

THE WISDOM OF FRUIT TREES: GOD’S PLAN FOR YOU, AND ME, IN 2021: As I awakened this morning, I was seeing a vision, as is often the case. At first, I was seeing what represented the garden of my heart, and I felt as God spoke to my heart that what He was saying applies for all of us. It looked like the aftermath of a tornado or hurricane. I had the feeling, as many of us do right now, of waking up after a terrible storm. I then saw a tall, flourishing fruit tree, and He said to me,

“I am going to take all of the broken pieces of your grief, sadness, sorrows, and broken dreams of this past year and turn it all into the compost that will enrich the fruit trees of the fruit you will bear for Me in this coming year if you will only yield it all to Me. Yield the broken dreams and the shards you have tried to pick up on your own to Me, and you will see what I will do, for I will take what the enemy meant to destroy you and turn it into the rich compost that will nourish the fruit trees of your heart’s garden. So will I take the weeds and the broken pieces of what was meant for your harm and turn it around for your good. I will make the heartaches, disappointments, failures, and broken dreams of 2020 into the powerful, divinely enriched compost of 2021 that will yield a greater harvest than anything you have ever imagined possible if you will only yield it all to Me, for there is nothing that I cannot do.”

Only yield it all to the Master Gardener standing at the gate of your heart’s garden now, and He will turn your chaos into the chorus of His praise, your calamity into renewed confidence, and your tragedies into triumph that will bring glory to His name, if you will only trust Him. He knows what is ahead, and He is well able to do above and beyond all that we can ask or think. We do not know what tomorrow holds, and no doubt, this year will hold challenges of its own, but we can rest assured that if we put our trust in the One Who holds tomorrow in His hand, we will make it through. Jesus said in these latter days, we would have trials and tribulations (Matthew 24), but He also said, “be of good cheer, I have already overcome the world” (John 16:33).

If you are still here, it’s because He still has work you can do for His Kingdom. It’s because He has a reason for you to still be here. You can help bring in the great harvest that will precede Christ’s return. So, as we are all thinking of those New Year’s Resolutions, why not make one to let Him back in the “driver’s seat”? This past Christmas, as we prepared to celebrate the miracle of Christ’s birth and what it means for all of us, I have to say, after all my family and I have endured in 2020, I found myself going through my own personal advent season. As I prayerfully embarked on this journey, it was quite a revealing process as I discovered all that I had been allowing to be placed on the “throne of my heart” before Him.

So, this next time around, let’s not leave Him the “manger”, but may we all accept the challenge to graciously and humbly yield it all back to our Heavenly Father, the One Who created us, and Who sent His Son, our Jesus, to die for us, so that we could have eternal life in Heaven with Him. May we each find that new joy and healing, peace and comfort, encouragement, and renewed faith and vision for greater things that can only come when we finally open that gate to the “garden of our hearts” and let the Master Gardener in. We may not know what tomorrow holds, or which of us will be here next year to celebrate another year, but when we let Him back in, and give Him His place back on the throne of our hearts, we can rest assured that there is nothing that can stop the great things He can and will do in our lives.

Let’s let Him take all of the broken pieces of what the enemy meant to destroy us in 2020, and put it all through the “compost machine” of His power through the matchless and mighty name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and turn it into the compost that His Holy Spirit will use to nourish the fruit trees He has already planted in the gardens of our hearts. Then, and only then, will we see how truly flourishing and beautiful the garden of our hearts can be. Only then, will we see the great and powerful harvest we are truly capable of. May we each bring in a greater fruitful yield for His Kingdom in 2021 than we have ever dreamed possible.

Will your “garden” bring in a great harvest for the Kingdom in 2021? Let Him turn the heartaches of 2020 into the “compost” to enrich the fruit trees for what He will do through you this year!

Masks in the Church: Part 1 – The Masks We Hide Behind

“Life is but a masquerade ball. No one is ever really who they say they are, but sooner or later, the masks come off.”

Okay, I made that up, although if anyone else has ever said it, I don’t know who they are.) I have said at one time in the past that I had considered having these words put on my tombstone (Now, I know better). Still, if you think about it, there is a lot of truth in that.

A while back, I did a post on Facebook about “Masks”, and how many of us as Christians have hidden behind them for too long. With all that we have going on now, with the Covid 19 Pandemic, and other signs that Christ warned us about happening all around us, I have felt led to visit this topic again.

So, this will be the first of a series I am starting this week, on Masks in the Church. In this first of three posts I will be doing, I will just get into the basics of what it all means, and we’ll get deeper into it all in the next posts, so be sure and subscribe to my email if you haven’t, so you won’t miss out on any of these, or my future posts. I also get briefly into the subject of “masks” in my book, “CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door”, which is now available on Amazon and B&Nsee more about that here. So, without further ado, let’s get started. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s sit down for a minute and talk about this. If you find it helpful, be sure and share it with someone!

So, this will be the first of a series I am starting this week, on Masks in the Church. In this first of three posts I will be doing, I will just get into the basics of what it all means, and we’ll get deeper into it all in the next posts, so be sure and subscribe to my email if you haven’t, so you won’t miss out on any of these, or my future posts. I also get briefly into the subject of “masks” in my book, “CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door”, which is now available on Amazon and B&N, see more about that here. So, without further ado, let’s get started. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s sit down for a minute and talk about this. If you find it helpful, be sure and share it with someone!

Are We Hiding Behind Masks?

For too many of us, the ways we have adapted to the ways satan (no, I won’t capitalize his name) uses our past to control us and define us, we have allowed it all to cause us to develop this hardened outer layer of ourselves, all while trying to put on a fake outer front, or “mask”, a false facade for others, while inside, we slowly languish in our own self made “prison”, instead of trusting Christ to set us free.

Before I go on, I’m just going to “get real” with you myself. I recently found myself going through a trial that forced me to take my own “masks” off and get real with God, and with myself, and others. On July 17, 2020, I tested positive for Covid 19. Although I am mostly recovered, as I write this, my husband is in the hospital with it. This whole trial has forced me to take a long, hard look at myself in the “mirror” of God’s Word, and gone deeper in prayer and repentance myself than ever before, and I didn’t like what I saw…

If we as the Church are not careful and diligent to pray and seek Him and study His Word every day, the enemy will fool us into continuing to wear those masks and waste this life away drifting along in the world’s masquerade ball. His evil plan for us is that we will waste the precious life God has given us, hiding behind these masks and missing out on the real, true power of Jesus Christ and the plans He has for each of us to make a difference in this lost and dying world. Ultimately, as long as we let him fool us into living with this deception, he knows we will never truly bear fruit for Christ’s Kingdom, or complete His will for us, and that we will hear those three dreaded words that are more frightening even than dying from Covid 19: “Depart from Me…”

Types of Masks We Wear…

It’s easy to do. We do it all the time. You walk into the store. Someone you know recognizes you and calls out to you, “Hey (your name here), how are you doing?” It can be easy to give in to the temptation to put your “normal person, I’m fine” mask on, when in fact, on the inside, you’re a wreck. We don’t want others to see the trauma from emotional abuse, or other things we’ve endured, or the feelings of worthlessness from it all that we’ve suffered for years, so we hide it. We put our “smiley face” mask on, and say, “I’m fine, how are you?”. Realistically, most of us know when someone asks, “how are you doing?”, they really don’t have the time to listen to the laundry list of what most of us are dealing with these days.

It’s easy to do. We do it all the time. You walk into the store. Someone you know recognizes you and calls out to you, “Hey (your name here), how are you doing?” It can be easy to give in to the temptation to put your “normal person, I’m fine” mask on, when in fact, on the inside, you’re a wreck. We don’t want others to see the trauma from emotional abuse, or other things we’ve endured, or the feelings of worthlessness from it all that we’ve suffered for years, so we hide it. We put our “smiley face” mask on, and say, “I’m fine, how are you?”. Realistically, most of us know when someone asks, “how are you doing?”, they really don’t have the time to listen to the laundry list of what most of us are dealing with these days.

We have all worn “masks” in too many different ways. “Selfish ambition” is one (see Phillipians 2:3-8). I wore that one for too long. Now, I know that the work I have been called to do for Him is more important than whether, as a writer, I ever make that coveted New York Times Best Seller List (By the way, “coveting” is a form of idolatry.). The attractions of wealth, material possessions, and fame are no longer important to me (see Matthew 6:19-34 and 1 Timothy 6:6-14), but what He is getting ready to do through me, and the souls I will win for Him, those I will encourage because I can say, I know what you’re going through, I’ve been there.

“Approval Addiction” is another one I hid behind for way too long (Joyce Meyer has a book on this) because of years of emotional abuse I suffered because of the choices I made. For too long, I was a prisoner of my past, controlled by the need for approval, constantly obsessed about and controlled by what people thought of me, the need to “fit in”. Even worse, I wasn’t really reaching out to others because of how worthless and insignificant I felt deep down inside. That only continued to feed that old monster weed of my insecurities, caused by that need for others’ approval. If you are going to serve Christ, you must be willing to be set apart! (See Phillipians 3:7-9.) Then, there’s the old, “I’m okay, I’m not really depressed” mask, you know, the one many of us wear to church. There are countless others. “Denial” is one many of us have struggled with.

Other examples of “masks” we can tend to hide behind are, “tolerance” and “political correctness” (Careful! Are we not denying Christ, as Peter did, by doing this?). Too many times, we as Christians have tried to “blend in” to society, when God calls us to stand out! We have let the devil trick us into wearing these masks, but they only keep us from seeing who we really are in Christ, and who He has called us to be.

Taking off the Masks – Who has God Called You to Be?

So, take a few minutes to start each day together with God’s word, pray for Him to show you the “masks” you may have been hiding behind, then ask Him to remove them and help you let go of the need to build false facades, “release” it all to Him, and speak the Word over your marriage, your family, and your finances. Make the decision today to “get real” and pray and agree on that Word God gives you together (see Matthew 18:19-20), and I can assure you, you will begin to see changes in your prayer life, your spiritual walk with God, and your marriage and family relationships.

I can honestly tell you right now, today, for me, those chains have been broken! The masks have fallen off! They are gone! I am FREE in my new identity in Jesus Christ, my Lord (also in that section in Phillipians 2:1-15, about seeking to have the mind of Christ).

If this series the Holy Spirit has laid upon my heart to share with you helps you somehow to take a closer look at your own life, and see, through His loving guidance, what masks you may have been wearing, then it will have achieved its purpose. After all, it is not me, but Him, lovingly calling out to you now, while there is yet time for us to make a difference. I am only the hands that typed the words you are reading here. I am only His willing vessel, one who has been broken in many ways, but He saved me, delivered and healed me, and I have answered His call to help as many as I can, just as I hope you have.

With this pandemic we are all facing now, we can only work together, pray and show our appreciation to all of those front line workers who are bravely doing their jobs to take care of us, and pray for those who are sick. The truth is, none of us are promised tomorrow. The path to prayerfully seeking His guidance to help us take the masks off that too many of us have worn for too long, and show us the plans He has for each of us to make an impact for His Kingdom is a journey each of us must take on our own. We can only work, love, and pray together, now, as never before, and believe in the miracles He wants to do in our lives.

There is Hope for You…

Covid 19 is not an automatic death sentence. Many have recovered, and gone on to appreciate the things in life they took for granted before. I am one of them, or you wouldn’t be reading this right now. But if your time should come, and your name isn’t written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and you haven’t accepted our Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then after your last breath will be too late. You will have just allowed the devil to punch your ticket to the Masquerade Ball of no return.

Jesus loves each of us, so much He died for us to have a more abundant life of hope and fulfillment, leading others to Him. I hope you will accept Jesus as Lord of your life today. If you would like to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, all it takes is a simple prayer, and to believe in Him with all your heart, in total surrender to Him. If you’re ready to take that step, click here, and allow my 12 year old self to tell you how. (That got ya thinking, didn’t it? 🙂

 

What Will Your Choice Be?

I wore many masks for a long time, but thankfully, I have been set free by the power of Jesus Christ. I am no longer chained to the past. I gave my ticket to that masquerade ball the enemy had me going to for too long to my Lord and Savior, my Jesus. He took it and ripped it up and gave me a new hope and a new life. Right now, I am taking it one day at a time as we recover from this, and praying for healing for my sweet hubby. Again, none of us are promised tomorrow. But I can tell you this much: I’m done wearing any of those dumb, ugly masks. I know now that God truly cares about what we’re hiding behind that mask, and that the truth has set me free (John 8:32,36, and 14:6) just as it will set you free. I know that each new day I wake up with the breath of life He gave me in my lungs, I will praise Him with it, and never take it for granted again. I don’t want to be the person I was before all of this. I want now, more than ever before to strive to reach my full potential of what He has called me to do.

Which will you choose? Will you continue to be a part of the problem, as many of us have been for too long, or will you choose to make a great impact for the Kingdom of Christ? The clock is ticking for every one of us. Thankfully, we have a loving Savior Who standing there at the door of our hearts, waiting to come in and help us “get real”, with Him, and with those we will reach for Him. Now, let this song minister to your heart…

Have You Checked Out My New Book?

If you haven’t, be sure to check out my book, “CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door”, as I mentioned above. It has my testimony of my near death experience in a car accident in November of 1985, what I have learned since, and has been written as an encouraging message of faith, especially for those who have been through traumatic events and have felt like giving up. In the book, I also talk about throwing off the excess baggage from the past so you can sail forward to God’s wonderful plan for your life. I feel in any case, that it will help enrich your walk with Him, but it should by no means take the place of studying God’s Word. Jesus is the Lighthouse. I am only a flashlight to point the way to Him.

Know Someone Who Could Use This?

If you know someone who would be encouraged by this information, please share! Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to hit that ‘Subscribe’ tab so you won’t miss my next post in this series, and so you will be among the first to know about my upcoming new books. Now, let’s throw those masks out and start building the Kingdom together!

34 Years Later – A Celebration: 34 Promises of Our Soon Coming Lion of Judah!

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

34 Years ago today…

Thirty-four years ago today, on the morning of Saturday, November 16, 1985, my family drove to the hospital, and watched anxiously as I was wheeled into the ER on a stretcher, covered in blood from a gaping head wound, a concussion, and a fractured hip. By that time, I had stopped calling out, “What happened…”, etc. As they worked frantically to stabilize me, an IV in each arm, taking my blood pressure something like every 5 minutes, I felt myself fading from this life…for the 2nd time.

Although I have no conscious memory of the accident that almost took my life, I would later watch the entire scene unfold on the screen of my mind through hypnosis and the power of God’s Holy Spirit…only from about 20 feet above the car. Because of my injuries and extensive loss of blood, I had to drop out of nursing school, thus, my career I would have had as a nurse was derailed. I was left without much hope of a future. Diagnosed with PTSD, and other problems that would develop over time, I would eventually reach a point of nearly giving up on God and on life itself.

Now, 34 years later, I have written the book that will tell my story, using my testimony of my near death experience in the accident and my healing journey through the years as a backdrop to what God has given me on resuscitating the broken faith of those who have been through traumatic events and become discouraged to the point of giving up. But I will get more into all of this in the book, which will be published under my own imprint, Rivers of Grace Books. Finally, after years of working on it, in between life as a mother and grandmother, it is almost ready! I am excited! So excited in fact, that I have decided to celebrate by doing something a little different.

Here for you below, are 34 promises straight from the Word of God; one for each of the past 34 years that God’s healing, restoring, and renewing grace has led me on this journey. Oh, there are more, many more, but these are some I felt important to include for you now that I feel will be very helpful for you. This was adapted from a recent Facebook post I did, although I have edited it a bit and added a few more, for a total of 34. Feel free to share this post with anyone you know who might find it useful and encouraging.

Have YOU been through a traumatic event? Have you felt like giving up? Click here for more about the book.

As I will discuss in more detail in the book, I was given a 2nd chance at life, because He saw you and knew the encouragement and healing you would need at this time in your life. Whatever it is that you may have gone through, these promises of God’s undefeated Word have been tested and proven all through time. They will work for you too, just as they have for me.

Most of these are probably New King James Version, although some are KJV. I am pretty sure I mentioned most of these in the book, but here, I have condensed these for you into this handy little list. I hope you find it helpful and that it builds and encourages your faith. So, without further ado, here we go!

34 Promises of God, Celebrating Our Soon Returning King of Kings

1 – PROMISE OF HIS FORGIVENESS, SALVATION! – John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Romans 10:9-10 “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

2 – HIS PROMISE OF SALVATION FOR OUR UNSAVED LOVED ONES – Acts 16:30-31 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Isaiah 54:13All your children shall be taught by the LordAnd great shall be the peace of your children.” Acts 2:38-39Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. Acts 10:34 “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:” Romans 2:11 “For there is no respect of persons with God.” – What He has done for one, He will do for another! Romans 8:28 (see number 3) – He is working all things for our good when we choose to serve Him, AND –> “Isaiah 55:11 “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

3 – HIS PROMISE TO THOSE WHO SERVE HIM – “All things work together for good to them that love God, that are the called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28

4 – OUR HERITAGE, HIS PROTECTION NO WEAPON FORMED AGAINST US SHALL PROSPER! – Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.” 

5 – OUR WEAKNESS, SICKNESS, HIS OPPORTUNITY – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 His strength is made perfect in our weakness…”And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 

6 – HIS PROMISE OF HEALING, FORGIVENESS – James 5:15 The prayer of faith shall save the sick…”And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” Isaiah 53:5 …by His stripes we are healed.” 

7 – PROMISE OF COURAGE TO HIS SERVANTS – Galatians 6:9 “Be not weary in well doing, for we shall reap in due season if we faint not.”  

8 – PROMISE OF PROTECTION AGAINST EVIL – James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

9 – PROMISE OF HIS PROTECTION, GUIDANCE – Isaiah 43:2 “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” 

10 – PROMISE OF HIS FELLOWSHIP – Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

11 – PROMISE OF NEW BEGINNINGS – Isaiah 43:18-19 “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” 

12 – PROMISE OF HELP, STRENGTH, PROTECTION – Isaiah 41:10 “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

13 – PROMISE OF HIS GUIDANCE – Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

14 – PROVISION – Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

15 – HEALING – Psalm 23:2 “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” 

16 – RESTORATION, GUIDANCE – Psalm 23:3 “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” 

17 – PROTECTION FROM EVIL – Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” 

18 – PROVISION, VINDICATION – Psalm 23:5 “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” 

19 – PROVISION, PROTECTION, FAVOR FOR LIFE, ETERNAL REWARD FOR SERVICE TO HIM – Psalm 23:6 “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” 

20 – ENCOURAGEMENT – HE WILL FINISH WHAT HE STARTS IN YOU! – Philippians 1:6 “He that began a good work in you will bring it to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.”

21 – WISDOM AND GUIDANCE – James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.  

22 – PROMISE THAT WE ARE FORGIVEN! – 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ.”

23 – HIS HERITAGE FOR THE RIGHTEOUS – Psalm 37:3-6 “Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.

24 – PROMISE OF COMFORT FOR THE GRIEVING – Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”

25 – HIS CLOSENESS TO THE BROKENHEARTED – Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” 

26 – PROMISE OF VINDICATION – Romans 12:19 “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

27 – PROMISE OF HIS REWARD FOR HIS FAITHFUL SERVANTS – 1 Corinthians 2:9 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

28 – HE WILL NOT ALLOW US TO BE TEMPTED BEYOND WHAT WE ARE ABLE TO BEAR – 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

29 – HE WILL NOT ALLOW US TO BE COMPLETELY BROKEN – 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”

30 – STRENGTH IN TIME OF TROUBLE, PEACE, AND HIS INHERITANCE – Psalm 37 – all, click here to read. Psalm 57:1 “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.” Psalm 27 – Click here to read.

31 – PROMISE OF HIS PLAN FOR OUR FUTURE – Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

32 – HE HAS PROMISED US THAT HIS PROMISES WILL NOT FAIL! – “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:11

33 – PROMISE OF HIS RETURN FOR HIS SAINTS – Acts 1:11 “Men of Galilee,” they said. “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

HE CAME FIRST AS A HUMBLE LAMB…

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HE’S COMING BACK AS THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH!

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

– 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 

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“Behold the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has overcome to open the scroll and its seven seals.” – Revelation 5:5

And, I saved the best for last (but it is certainly not the least!):

34 – HIS REWARD WITH HIM FOR OUR WORK FOR HIM ON EARTH – Revelation 22:12 “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

My book, “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door” (Resuscitating the Christian Heart, Yes, Your Ship is Coming In!”, is written especially for the broken, discouraged, and those who have been through traumatic events, such as what I went through, and have reached the point of giving up on their faith in God. I expect to have it available very soon! If you or someone you know would be interested in a copy, click here for more information, and be sure to subscribe so you’ll be among the first to know!

Do you have lost, unsaved loved ones who have not received Christ as their Lord and Savior? Are there some in your family, friends, co-workers, etc, who have become discouraged and broken and given up on their faith? I think we all have loved ones in these catagories. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” We have a special kind of unity at our church, a shared burden for the lost, the broken, and those who need God’s restoration, not only in our families, etc, but in our community as well. We pray with each other and lift each other up as we speak God’s Word in agreement over the salvation, restoration, and deliverance that is needed. When one of our church family members’ prayer is answered, the rest of us rejoice with them, knowing that what He has done for one of us, He will do for the rest of us. We need only speak His Word and agree on it together (see Matthew 18:19-20, Hebrews 11:1). Here is a special link to a post I found on scriptures we can pray over them: 14 Bible Verses To Pray For Your Unsaved Family Members.

Know someone who would find this information useful? Share! Hit the buttons below to share with your friends! Let us bear one another’s burdens and work to lift each other up until He comes! Believe and He will bring it to pass!

Thank you for taking the time to read this post, and may God bless you as you continue in your own journey to finding His wonderful plan for your life!

“Cookie Cutter” Authors or Writers for the King: Breaking the Mold as Christian Writers #ChristianWriters #ChristianAuthors

Am I a “Cookie Cutter” Author?

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Image by Fathromi Ramdlon from Pixabay

“Cookie Cutter Authors?” You ask. What on earth do you mean by that? Well, let me try to explain. I will admit first off, that my first two books didn’t quite measure up to NYTBS list material. As a matter of fact, there probably aren’t many of us authors whose first books will make that highly coveted list. That doesn’t mean we give up of course. We simply learn from those experiences and become better writers. If yours haven’t done well either, don’t feel bad. Hey, we cut our “writers’ teeth” on those first books, and if we had never written them in the first place, we might never have come to be writers. We have to crawl before we can walk, right? That said, even though we may come from small beginnings, I have now been in this business long enough to know a few things. So, grab some coffee, sit down, and let’s talk about this.

Genre Expectations: Are Readers getting bored?

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Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I have well learned, at least at this point, that there are certain expectations for each genre that readers expect to see. (By the way, for any of you fellow authors still struggling to pin down a genre for your book, or just needing a brush up on the whole genre thing, check this handy Book Genre Finder site out.) Put a book in a wrong genre that’s not the right fit for it, and it will likely result in negative reviews. Thus, my coining the term “Cookie Cutter Authors”, if someone hasn’t already beat me to it. Hey, we can do that, we’re writers. 😉 Too often, this has caused increased pressure on us as authors to put out what our readers want to read. But more and more lately, I am seeing articles and posts with comments from readers saying they have begun to tire of what seems like the same story repeated in numerous books within a given genre, and the same, typical, even stereotyped characters, only the names, places, and scenes have changed. While many readers may continue to expect books they read to fit into those expectations, there are also a good number of them out there who have become bored with the same old scenarios repeated in books by authors trying to fit the old cookie cutter molds. It’s time for us to break the molds of pleasing the world, and write to please Him.

So, What’s Your Point?

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Image by Elien Smid from Pixabay

So, what’s my point, you ask? My point is this: There are too many Christian authors these days who have failed to “stand out” as Christ called us to do, for fear of “offending” their readers, and losing sales. They fall for the deception of writing what readers expect, to the point of settling for compromising, even sacrificing what our Lord expects of us as the writers He has called us to be. They have chosen to “blend in” rather than stand out for Him. I am at the point, I can no longer settle for just being one of these cookie cutter authors, just spitting out generic stories that “fit” into what the world wants to read. As a Christian author, I must answer the call to stand out and make a difference, to write that one unique story that’s not a “cookie cutter” copy of 800 others, but one that might just inspire its readers to change their lives for the better. We as Christian authors will not do that by “blending in”. There will never be a time that the money, riches, and fame this world has to offer will be worth more to me than what my precious Savior has called me to write.

A Choice to Make: Pleasing the World or Reaching Readers for Christ

So, for most of us who are Christian writers, it looks like we’ve come to a “fork in the road”. Every one of us has a choice to make. I know that for those of us who choose to represent the King, Jesus, our Lord and Savior, in our writing, it will likely mean that we may never see our books rise to popularity by the world’s standards. But then, I am no longer writing to please the world, but my Lord. If even one of my books somehow touches someone’s heart and inspires them to change their life for the better, maybe even accept Him as Lord and Savior, then it will all have been well worth it.

Avoiding the Idolatry of Selfish Ambition

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Up until now, I have mainly worked on fiction, and, until now, like many other authors, I had aspirations of making that “NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR” list. That is, until God began to continually lead me to Philippians, chapter 2, verses 3-4, which says (NKJV): “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” The more that began to sink in, the more I have come to realize, through the intense spiritual awakening that has followed, that it is no longer important for me to make that “list”. I no longer subscribe to the covetous, selfish ambitions of worldly fame and recognition, or even the desire to maybe see my books made into movies. Coveting all those things more than the work God wants to do through my writing, and the people He wants to reach through my work falls under something the word of God explicitly warns us against: idolatryAm I saying that’s a bad thing (Making the NYTBS List)? No, of course not! And if I ever do make it, wonderful! And if you are an author or know one with at least one book on that list, let me be the first to congratulate you, or even the 59th person to do so. Please understand here, that I am not saying that in itself is a bad thing. Not at all. I am just saying that I will no longer covet this above the difference God has called me to make and the plan and purpose that He has for me with the books He has given me to write (see Colossians 3:2 and 2 Corinthians 4:18).

God has really begun to drive this important truth home to me more than ever before. He recently spoke to me and said, “ANYTHING you put before ME becomes an idol!” He also warned us that idolaters will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and 1 Timothy 6:10-12). For too long, we have put on the “masks” of tolerance, political correctness, etc, and chosen to “blend in” to society, rather than stand out for Christ. I will no longer blend in, but I choose to stand out for Him, and help people see that what He has done for me, He will do for them. I choose to believe He is faithful and is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (see Hebrews 11:6), and my work from this point onward will reflect that.

Oh sure, it would be easy to tailor my stories around “what the world wants to see”, and what will guarantee me a spot on that coveted list, but when I think of the price tag that is attached to that deceptive “selfish ambition”, no thank you! What my Lord and Savior did for me on Calvary is deserving of no less than my all for Him, and the complete surrender of those things I once considered important, for His will for me instead, and the lives He wants to touch through me. In Philippians 3:7-8, Paul says, “ But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” His will, and what He wants to do through it all, and my testimony reaching more readers through my work for Him is much more important now than the selfish ambition I held on to in the past. All of that other stuff is no longer important.

Mark 8:36 says, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Indeed, the lure of worldly fame and recognition is the greatest illusion ever perpetrated on humanity by the deceiver we all know as the devil. Even my fiction work is now undergoing a huge “face lift”, as I re-evaluate my projects and seriously seek Him to show me how to write works that line up with the message He wants me to project to my readers. I will still, of course, do all I can to maintain the professional standards expected of any of us as writers, but at the same time, I will not compromise to the world’s standards (see 1 Corinthians 10:21 and Matthew 6:24). I want to be that one that’s different from the others.

God’s Version of Success: Choosing the Hidden Rewards of Writing for Christ

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Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

I know that conflict and tension have to be there in order for readers to appreciate the big, powerful, “Wow-I-didn’t-see-that-one-coming” conclusion when it ends. But we as Christian writers can do this without sacrificing our God-given purpose and perspective. There may even be “pre-Christian” characters in my stories, or characters representing the hurting, lonely, and struggling. My soon coming book, “LOGAN – Chain of Grace”, is a good example of this. I feel that most readers will be able to identify with at least one of the characters, especially once they see how their lives are transformed by what happens in the story. Thus, it is my goal that as a result, readers will see how their own lives can be transformed if they are willing to surrender their all to Christ. (It is mainly for this reason that a couple of my current fiction works in progress have been delayed, but they are coming soon, promise!) But if we continue to settle for being “cookie cutter” authors, just writing the same tired old scenarios others have written, we may never see others’ lives touched like this. It is only in breaking free from the “fit-in-to-what-everyone-else-is-doing” mold that we will ever reach this hidden pinnacle of success in God’s eyes, as He sees it. He has gifted each of us with unique talents and insights, and we will never see these gifts come to fruition as long as we are busy trying to please the world instead of Him. But if we are willing to break free of that limited thinking and rise to His definition of “success”, who knows, we might just pen that best seller anyway. After all, you may never know the lives He wants to touch through you until you hand Him the quill, the pen, or these days, the keyboard/typewriter, and let Him write through you…
So, why don’t we stop being so afraid of losing sales, or missing out on the “big ticket”, or offending someone, and start being more concerned with reaching the world with the special, unique, encouraging, faith-building, life-renewing message that He has chosen you, out of all the other writers in the world, to write. Pray and ask Him to show you the bigger picture of what He has for you, and He will. And throw out the old cookie cutter image of yourself, break the mold, and get out there and get your message into the hands of the readers the Great Author Himself has already chosen for you to reach…

...That, you see, is how it works when you write for the King!

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Besides, He makes BIGGER “cookies”… and no two are the same. We are all unique, just as He meant it to be. Now, wouldn’t it be a shame if you let the world miss out on that?   

My NDE Testimony: CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door-Book is Here! Get Your Copy Now!

November 16, 1985 was almost the last day of my life…

Have you been through a traumatic event?

Felt like giving up?

Does your faith need God’s CPR?

Now, at a time when giving up is simply not an option, more people than ever are giving up on their faith. We are the Body of Christ, yet the “pulse” has weakened…

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…and the clock is ticking as we move ever toward the return of Jesus, our Lord, to rapture the Church…

If you don’t read another book this coming year, you don’t want to miss this one!

November 16, 1985 was almost the last day of my life…

But God had a different plan…

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As my family watched me being rushed from the ambulance into the emergency room, bleeding from a gaping head wound, and in agony from a fractured pelvis, they didn’t know if I was even going to make it…

BUT GOD…

BUT GOD…!!!

…GOD looked into the future and saw you…

Now, in my book, “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door”, available from K&F Stewart Ministries, (initials of my husband’s and my first names, Keith & Flossie), under our new imprint, Rivers of Grace Books, I will share my story, along with what I’ve learned on my long road to healing, and what God has given me to share with you about the special kind of “CPR” your faith needs.

You may be one of many people who have been through a life altering event and reached a point of feeling there is no hope. I know what that feels like. I’ve been there. While I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers (only God’s Word fits that category), I do know that what God has done for me, He can do for you.

I’ve often said, God can take the “lemons” life has handed you and turn it into some of the best “lemonade” you’ve ever “tasted”. But you have to give Him the lemons! Whatever it is the devil intended to use to destroy you, God wants to take it and turn it into your testimony, just as He has done for me! He can and He will!

November 16, 1985 was almost the last day of my life. I was in a horrific auto accident that derailed my nursing career and changed my life forever. Only later, through the divine power of the Holy Spirit revealing it to me, along with the help of my psychiatrist, would I come to learn that I had gone through a Near Death Experience, and that I had indeed passed through death’s door. Although I was left with a fractured hip, a terrible head injury, a speech problem I still suffer from although it isn’t immediately obvious, and other problems due to the traumatic brain injury (specifically, right temporal and frontal lobe damage, my head actually dented the dashboard, and I was unconscious), PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and psychological scars that would last long after the physical ones had healed, through Christ and His healing power in my life, I have triumphed over it all and gone on to write “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door” (Resuscitating the Christian Heart, Yes, Your Ship is Coming In!),  available now on Amazon in print (paperback) and ebook, and Barnes & Noble in hard cover (paperback should be available soon).  In the book, I will tell my story, and share with you what God has taught me on my long road to healing. I know that just as He has done for me, your faith will be renewed, and you will be on your way to discovering His plan to take whatever has happened in your life and turn it into a powerful testimony to help others!

We are also in the finishing stages of my next book, LOGAN, Chain of Grace, and we will hopefully have a release date sometime in the near future for that as well as other projects coming soon. So, if this is you, run, don’t walk, and hit the “Subscribe to my email” tab and subscribe so when it does come out, you’ll be one of the first to know! You can also feel free to share this to your Facebook, Twitter, etc, using the buttons below.

More great books coming soon from Rivers of Grace Books…

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An imprint of K & F Stewart Ministries…

Don’t miss out! Subscribe now!

Do you know someone who is struggling and might find this helpful? Click to share via the buttons below!

She Could Have Walked Away: Don’t Miss Your “Ruth” Blessing!

Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. And she said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”

But Ruth said:

“Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”

– Ruth 1:14-17

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The Book of Ruth tells the story of Ruth and Boaz

One moment in time. A bereaved mother, and her two daughters-in-law, on their way back to “the land of Judah” (Ruth 1:6-7 NKJV) from Moab after the deaths of both her sons. Two women, grieving for their husbands. One moment that would change everything and alter the course of history. Urged by their weeping mother-in-law to return to their people, both young widows had a decision to make at a moment’s notice that would change their lives one way or the other. With tears in their eyes, they wept, wanting to stay with her. Broken in her grief, with nothing left to offer them, the woman could only urge them to go back to the life they had known. The one kissed her and turned back. The other stood there, no doubt, with tears running down her cheeks as she watched her sister-in-law walk out of her life. She could have just walked away. But the choice she made in that moment would change her life forever. Her name was Ruth.

Have you ever had a “Ruth” moment? I am sure at one time or other, we all will at some point in our lives. For some, it will be the right choice they make in that moment. For others, it will be one they will regret for the rest of their lives.

For Ruth, it was the right choice. She could have chosen to go back to her people in Moab, and their gods. In the eyes of Naomi, her broken-hearted mother-in-law, there was no more reason for either of her daughters-in-law to stay in her life. The tension builds as they both look to her, weeping as they have, at this point, intended to go back with her to her people (Ruth 1:8-10 NKJV). It’s pretty clear that Naomi is thinking of their future, even in her grief, still weeping as she cries out, asking why they would want to stay with her, seeing she is past childbearing age, and knowing that even if she could have more sons, they couldn’t possibly wait until they were grown. The one, Orpah, finally kisses her mother-in-law and walks away. Naomi, looking to Ruth, can only try to get her to see the obvious pointlessness in her staying with her (Ruth 1:15 NKJV): “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” Yet, in that pivotal moment, the young, widowed Ruth couldn’t walk away and leave the poor woman to go on alone. In a dark time of faithlessness and everyone doing whatever was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25 NKJV), she chose to be faithful to the God of Israel, and spoke the well-known words that have now been used in many weddings as wedding vows (Ruth 1:16-17 NKJV, see above). It was settled. Ruth chose in that moment to let it be firmly known that she would not leave her. In time, she would see God’s reward for her faithfulness.

As the two women reached the city of Bethlehem, you might say they had a pretty big welcome. Yet, when the women asked about her, calling her by her name, Naomi changes her name (Ruth 1:19-21 NKJV) to Mara, which, in Hebrew, means “bitter”, saying God had dealt very bitterly with her. Click here for the meaning and history of the name, “Naomi”.  So, this is a woman who is truly devastated at this point (Verse 21). Yet, before it was all over, God would turn her situation around.

You see, if you think about it, with the state of grief she was in, she could have adamantly ran Ruth off. Yet, instead, she chose to let her go on with her. Verse eighteen of Chapter One reads, “When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her (or, I guess you could say, she saw no further point to argue with her).

But here’s where it gets interesting. In those days, Jewish custom, or law, said that when a woman’s husband died before she could conceive, his brother was to marry her in order to raise children in his brother’s name. For example, in Genesis 38, we read of the story of Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah. So, you see now, why Naomi is so grieved for her daughters-in-law, thus, her emotional response to their pleas in verses 11-13 of that first chapter of Ruth:

But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn back, my daughters, go—for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons, would you wait for them till they were grown? Would you restrain yourselves from having husbands? No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!”

Yet…I’ve gotta say it! BUT GOD!!!! (You had to know there was a “but God” coming!) 😀 So, Ruth was in the right place at the right time. God placed her directly in the path of Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband! You can read the Book of Ruth in like 5 minutes, but I love what he says to her in Ruth 2:11-12, after she asks why she has found favor in his eyes, that he should take notice of her, since she is a foreigner (Verse 10):

And Boaz answered and said to her, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”

More and more lately, I believe, as Bishop T.D. Jakes has well said, Nothing Just Happens. In this message, at about 8:10, Bishop Jakes mentions Orpah and Ruth, and talks about this story, so if you’re interested, you can click the link and listen to this excerpt of his message on this. The footsteps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord (see Psalm 37:23)! So, as God’s reward for Ruth’s  undying loyalty to her mother-in-law, and her faithfulness to Him as the God of Israel, she was rewarded with an honored place in the bloodline leading up to the birth of Christ, through (of course) the Tribe of Judah.

The story of Ruth has to be one of the most beautiful love stories in the Bible, (2nd only to our Jesus and what He did for us, of course). So, Boaz married Ruth, and they had a son, who was named, Obed. Here, from Ruth 4:13-22, is the wonderful ending to their love story, as only God could write it:

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him. Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.” And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now this is the genealogy of Perez: Perez begot Hezron;Hezron begot Ram, and Ram begot Amminadab;Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon; Salmon begot Boaz, and Boaz begot Obed; Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David.

Remember when I mentioned Tamar earlier? Well, Perez was one of her twin sons. Even the well-known geneology sites can’t touch this! So, think about this story if you ever have a “Ruth” moment, and trust God. He only writes the best love stories.

So, Naomi found joy again, and no doubt, got lots of cuddles in with that new baby boy. Ruth took her place in history, in the bloodline through the Tribe of Judah, leading to the birth of our Savior. She was the great grandmother of David, and another page turned in Biblical history…

…And she could have just walked away. 

A Trusting Heart, Willing Hands…& a FREE eBook Download! #FaithBuilders #KingdomBuilders

“Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; To shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” – Psalm 92:13-15

In November of 2018, the Eastern North Carolina Church of God Senior Adults (50 and older) gathered at the ENCCOG  Campground/gathering center in Kenly, NC for their annual Young at Heart/Senior Talent Convention (<– Click here for info on this year’s event). I entered in the Woodwinds Division, with a solo I played on my clarinet, and in the Creative Writing/Short Story Division. I started not to even bother with the writing part. But then, at the “last minute” I decided, “why not?” So, that evening, with the deadline approaching as of the next morning for the entries to be sent, or emailed in, I started thinking of what to write. Sitting here at the computer, I prayed about it, still thinking of just giving it up and going to bed.

The great, white, blank screen loomed before me…

“Okay, God, You’re writing this, so please just take over. Help me write what you would have me to write,” I prayed.

Before I knew what was happening, the words started to flow onto the page, the keys clacking into the night, as I worked to get it done and send it in to our Pastor’s wife, so she could email it to them.

Even now, as I look back and read it, I can only say that God wrote this, not me. I am only the hands that typed it. Seriously, there is no way I could have ever come up with this on my own. It has all the elements of good fiction I have worked to have in my books, especially the newer projects I am working on, you know, depth, character development, conflict, and tension, and believable dialogue with the characters, all building up to the powerful resolution at the end…an ending that makes us think, makes us take a closer look at ourselves. All of this has to be balanced with not giving too much away early in the story.

When I started writing a few years back, I will admit now, even laughing at myself, that I did not really know what I was doing. I didn’t know then, what all experience has taught me. Things like having the necessary conflict and tension in the story in order for that powerful climax, or resolution at the end to be fully appreciated. I will also admit that even now, at my age, I have often thought of giving up. (Can anybody out there relate? Anybody out there over 50 still writing, or whatever it is you do, shout out to you! 🙂 )

For all my fellow “writing seniors” out there, you may have felt that way yourself at times. So, after much prayer about this, as well as what to do with this thing now, other than let it sit here on my hard drive, collecting “computer dust”, I have felt led to share it with you. You can click this link to download it. I hope you enjoy it and find it encouraging…

The Preacher and the Fiddle – FREE eBook Download

Not bragging or anything like that, but I feel led to share it with you, just to show you, what any of us, every single one of us, can achieve if we surrender our all to the Master. All of us have talents, everyone.  Some of us are terrible at things others are good at, and vice versa. But that is not a bad thing. That’s just God showing His creative variety. When we put it all together, all of us working together, doing the best we can with whatever He’s given us, it all comes together like a big, beautiful quilt (by the way, we had some nice quilting and needlework entries, including our “first lady”, our Pastor’s wife’s awesome entry of a crochet rendering she did of the missionary couple who were pastoring at the church where she got saved and accepted Christ).

For all those my age and older, it can be too easy at times, to just give up or think that we are too old, tired, sick, or (insert whatever comes to your mind here) or that we’re not really as good at doing things as we “used to be”. It’s easy to get tired, stressed, and overwhelmed with all that is going on in the world around us. I am no exception, thus, my putting this whole idea off till that last night before the Creative Writing entries were due in to the ones who would be judging them. But maybe that is why God gives us our creative gifts, not only for building His Kingdom together, but to encourage others through whatever it is our talent is.

Whether it’s a drawing, painting, an uplifting song written, sang, or played, every little thing we accomplish through Him can encourage and influence someone. Maybe it was just that last little bit of encouragement the Holy Spirit was trying to give me, that last little nudge that made me change my mind. Who knows how many of our greatest inventions might not have come to be if it hadn’t been for that little last minute nudge. And so, on I typed into the night…

Fast forward to this past April 30th – May 2nd, 2019, in Gatlinburg, TN, with my husband, our Pastor, and his wife. (We drove separately of course)…that’s right. My little short story won Runner Up at the Senior Talent Competition/Young at Heart Convention, and several others in our church won in their categories as well. The one who won over me in the Creative Writing Division would not be able to make it, so I was able to go and compete at the Nationals. That adorable little crocheted couple our “first lady” did, and our Pastor, who competed in Percussion, Indefinite Pitch, and my short story, made it to the Nationals Competition in Gatlinburg, at the convention center there. There were others in our church who also won who were unable to make it to the Gatlinburg competition, but we still shared our pictures and everything, and they were still cheering us on. The thing is, all of us in the group of those who entered the 2018 Senior Talent Competition were the ones who listened to that last little nudge…that one more little prompting in our spirits that said, “Aww, come on, you can do it!”

And that’s right. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me.”

We are all in Christ, and together, with all of our talents and gifts He has given us, we make up the Body of Christ as a whole. We can do anything He calls us to do. Whether it’s crocheting, knitting, woodwork and building things, quilting, writing, singing, or playing a musical instrument, we all have something we are good at. But we are not gifted in these areas in and of our own accord, but it is through Him, working in us, that we do these things. We try and fail once, we learn from it, we get up and try it again. Besides, as Seniors, (or soon to be seniors), especially those of us who are grandparents now, or even great grandparents, we have to remember that those precious eyes of our grandchildren, and even our adult children, are still watching us. Like that lighthouse beacon guides the ships at sea, we are that shining light to them.

The greatest inventions would have never come to be if their inventors had given up.

Just the same, we will never know what we are capable of if we don’t try. It doesn’t matter how many times we may have failed before. What matters is that we had the courage to get in there and try again. Perhaps the best thing about it all is, as my husband and I walked through the room where all the entries were displayed on the tables in the various categories, admiring the paintings, drawings, crochet and knitting projects, quilts, etc., we knew it was the same wonderful hands of our Creator who had done it all. Just as He had gifted each of these creators with their talents, He had also gifted all the musicians, singers and instrument players. Together, it is the awesome God we serve, showing His creative variety, knowing that when it all comes together, it completes the greater masterpiece He is painting, a grand design only He can see. We are only the various hands that He has gifted for each of the colors, musical notes, and stories that He chooses as He works to create the legacy we will leave for our children and grandchildren…

So, what about you?

Whether you are young or older, like us, there is something you can do, and little eyes will be looking up at you for their own encouragement. After all, that is what our Master Painter does. We are just the hands He uses to do His work.

So paint that painting. Build that little cabin or church woodwork project. Make the quilt. Write the story (or song). Play the music. Sing the song, because all of it glorifies our wonderful Master, and there is no limit to what we can do if we only yield it all to Him. All He needs is a trusting heart and a set of willing hands.

My short story did not win at the Nationals in Gatlinburg, but then, we weren’t there to “win”, but rather to enjoy the blessing of meeting and shaking hands with other “movers and shakers” who are working, as we all are, to build the Kingdom for our Jesus as we work toward His soon return. That in itself was an encouraging experience for me. “Faith Builders” encouraging one another, knowing that what He has done through one of us, He can do through another. And in that respect, we are all winners from the start, because it is the same great Master hands working through us all. It was an honor and a blessing to me, to have just made it that far, to have had the chance to go. And by the way, our Pastor, Bishop Allen Gupton, won in the Percussion Division, so we did not return home empty handed! In fact, as I told him before we left to return home, I was already shifting gears for what is next. On that note, I have to give a shout out to our graduates in our church family who have just graduated high school, as well as our own graduates, my youngest daughter, who just received her Master’s in Social Work (her B.A. is in Psychology), and my husband’s son, who just received his Bachelor’s in Psychology. His wife and my eldest daughter will finish in their respective degrees in December (2019). We are proud of each and every one of you, and our prayers and best wishes are with you as you each look toward the future. We look forward to seeing what God is going to do through each of you! Congratulations to you all, and all Class of 2019 graduates everywhere!

Nevertheless, we all give Him the glory, not only for what He has done, but for what He is about to do, what He can do, through you, me, and any of us who yield to Him what He needs most to complete His masterpiece…a trusting heart, and willing hands.

I’m glad now that I said yes to that little nudge in my spirit. As the sun rose and began streaming through the windows, I finished my humble little short story entry, including the “tightening” and editing I had to do to get it to be within the allowed word count. Was it worth it? Of course it was! A big, resounding YES on that one! I hope you will say yes too, to whatever it is He is calling you to do. I promise you, it will be more than worth it.

Need some more encouragement? Okay, I promised to share it with you, and here it is. FREE for you to download and read, my short story I entered in our Senior Talent Competition. I hope you enjoy it, and that it gives you encouragement in some way, because what He has done through me, He can do through you. Whatever He has gifted you to do, just remember, it is often just when we feel like giving up, like we are just too tired and worn, or discouraged to go on, that He does His greatest work through us. And even though it did not win in the Nationals, I know that there is no limit to what He can and will do with it, so I have yielded it to Him. After all, it’s His story. Again, I am only the trusting heart and willing hands that He used to write it. You can click the link below to download it and read it…and yes, again, it’s FREE 🙂 .

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Photo licensed through Pixabay. Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

The Preacher and the Fiddle – FREE eBook Download

So, for any of you out there who are in the Eastern North Carolina Church of God region, if you can paint, draw, sing, play, drum, knit, crochet, or you are awesome at woodwork, (or even cook & clean!) why not try and join us this year? Many seniors just do it for the fun (and food!) and fellowship, and worshiping God together, even if they don’t feel they will win. After all, you’ll never know what God can do through you if you don’t try. Remember, it’s all through His hands, not ours! We only have to have a trusting heart and a willing set of hands. And just as the people of the little church in the story, you will never know what beautiful music our Grand Maestro could play through you…

…until you hand Him the fiddle and the bow. 

Life’s “Hiccups”- The Cure That Works #HowtoStopHiccups #TheWaterofLifeisFree

Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” – John 4:13-14
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You know, those pesky hiccups can show up without warning, and at the most inopportune times. And when they do, forget even trying to have a conversation! Can you say, “embarrassing”?

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Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

HICCUPS STOPPING HACK (This works!) –

For all those people like me for whom, nothing, and I mean, NOTHING, works when you get hiccups…
So, I found a way to stop hiccups instantly. So far, I have tried it twice, and it works. One of the neat things about the fact that I know God guides my life and my steps is the joy I feel when He guides me even in the smallest things. It’s knowing that He is never “too busy” to be bothered by our concerns. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
In ALL your ways…did you get that?. and “he SHALL“, not might…
So here you go…(No guarantees here, but just had to share this): If you have a water bottle sitting nearby, and those pesky hiccups start up, here’s what you do:
1. Pick a number (I did 3)…
2. Take 3 (or whatever no. you chose) sips, then STOP
3. Wait and count 5 or 6 seconds, THEN
4. Take 3 more sips.
5. Repeat this like 2 or 3 times.
I have done this twice, as I have had a couple of mornings recently that I actually woke up with hiccups, and both times, it worked, they just stopped instantly, within 2 or 3 repeats of the above steps. Evidently, in processing the sipping, stopping, and counting rhythm, your brain “forgets” to send the signal to keep the hiccups going, and it stops them instantly! Again, no guarantees, and if they keep up, or if you have other issues, you should still follow up with a doctor, but I just thought this was too good not to share. I will be curious to see if it actually works for anyone else. 🙂
…You’re welcome 😀

Life’s  Little  (Or Sometimes Not So Little) “Hiccups”…

Just the same, life can be full of “hiccups”, and just like the physical ones, those “bumps in the road” of life can have a way of uprooting everything. Kind of like that hurricane we just had move through our area, Hurricane Florence. Oh, and if you ever visit North Carolina and you ask one of us older folks about Hurricane Fran, make sure you aren’t in a hurry to get anywhere.
Below are links to some of my recent posts that you or someone you know might find helpful. Think of it as that “drink of water” for whatever “hiccups” you may have encountered on life’s road. Click on each link to open the post in a new tab, then look for the buttons below the post to share them with your friends, or like, tweet, or whatever you do!

So How Do You Stop Life’s “Hiccups”?

With the “Water of Life”, of course.
I’m not talking about water you drink. This kind of water is found only in God’s Word, The Holy Bible He gave us, and we can only come to Him through Jesus Christ, His Son, Who died for our sins, and took our punishment so we could have eternal life with Him. John 14:6 says, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
My friend, Jesus has provided that water for you, but He will not force you to “drink” it. But I can truly testify to you that if you are willing to receive it, you will never “thirst” again for the things of this world.
No, we cannot stop life’s “hiccups” from coming. We will face those bumps in the road, those storms that often derail us and leave us wanting to give up. But we can face them knowing we do not face them alone, because He has already gone before us to prepare the way, and if He lives within you, as He does me, then you know you are already a fountain of that water, springing up into the everlasting life He has promised to all who will believe. Come get your drink now. Jesus is waiting for you with open arms.

Do you know someone who has suffered from life’s “hiccups”, who could use a “drink of water”? Know someone who would benefit from this information? Please share via the buttons below to share this post, or visit the individual links above to share those posts.
What if YOUR story could change someone’s life?  – Well, start writing already! That book isn’t going to write itself! You can do it, because Philippians 4:13 says you can!
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The Grand Equation: 5 Steps to Finding Peace – God’s Formula for Balancing Out the Equation of Your Life #5StepstoFindingPeace

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Do you sometimes feel like your life is out of balance, like there’s something missing?
Does it seem that no matter what you do, things just don’t “add up”?
Would you like to know how you can find that balance and peace in your life?
My friend, there is a way. But are you really seeing the greater picture, or just going by what you can see immediately around you, as it applies to you?
Stay with me here, this gets really good. I know it has helped me. I know this because I have lived it, and found out most of it the hard way. I am currently 52 years old, soon to be 53, and I can honestly say, when you reach this pinnacle on the journey through life, you want to share the wisdom you’ve gained (most of it the hard way if you’re like me) with others, and hopefully maybe prevent someone else from taking the same falls in life you have.
Isaiah 40:31 is a powerful verse that has guided me through some of the rockiest, toughest roads of my life. It reminds us to see that greater picture through the eyes of the eagle:
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”
We all go through hurt in this life. Most of us can relate to going through these painful times in our life. People you thought you could trust “stab you in the back”, reject you, judge you without getting the facts. Old unforgiven hurts and grudges. People who have written you off a long time ago. So how do you ever find peace despite it all?
1. Look at the Bigger Picture…From the Greater Perspective of Our Creator
The answer is simple. But you must first understand that you need to look at it from the proper perspective. As humans, we only see what is immediately around us. However, the eagle sees all that is on the ground below. If we pray for God to help us “mount up with wings as eagles” as the above scripture promises we can, then we see the picture through the eyes of that eagle, or closer to God’s perspective, seeing the whole picture.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we tend to see ourselves in the middle of our little “circle of life”, envisioning everyone else and everything in life rotating around us. But in reality, we are not seeing the full picture. It is our Heavenly Father, our Creator, Who sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us by His grace, which we didn’t even deserve, Who belongs in the middle of that circle. So, the first thing each of us must do is put Him back in the center of our lives, and stop making it about ourselves.
Hey, I am talking to myself here too, friends. I went through years of heartache, dysfunction, and disappointment, because of the bad choices I made early in my life. I’ve also gone through a lot of undue stress and wasted precious time I cannot get back before I could ever get it through my head that it wasn’t all about me.
But what about all those hurtful situations that we find ourselves going through that we feel we didn’t even deserve? How do we forgive those who have hurt us deeply for no good reason, or treated us unfairly?
2. Forgive, Let Go, and Let God…
Well, first, we forgive them with the same grace Christ was willing to forgive us of our own sin. (See Matthew 6:14-15, Mark 11:25, among others).
Romans 12:19 boldly emphasizes this: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
He sees that bigger picture a whole lot better than we do, and He sees the hearts. Nothing is hidden from Him and nothing surprises Him. Besides, we never know that when we show them the love of Christ and forgive, it might just touch their hearts and win them over to Him. When we insist on being angry and getting our own vengeance, we rob Him of that.
Once we see it all from His Grander Perspective and forgive, this closes the door to the enemy being able to further use it to control us, and it opens the door for our loving Heavenly Father to work it to our advantage (see Romans 8:28, Galatians 6:9). Then, we apply a simple formula, which I will share with you here. For that, we’re gonna do some math.
I heard those groans! I know, math was never my best subject either, but this is a simple and time-tested process. I know because I have already been tested on it, so now, I am sharing it with you because I know it will work for you just as it has for me…
I have a chapter in my upcoming book, “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door”, called, “God’s Mathematics”…If the “equation” of your life isn’t “balancing out”, try what He has told me (and it won’t, until you do this, trust me, no better yet, trust Him)…
3. Take yourself OUT of the equation.Hey, I know that’s hard, believe me, it was for me. But like I said, in order for this to work, we each and every one have to get this through our stubborn, human heads…it’s not about us. It’s about Him, and what He did for us. It’s also about what is available to us, if we are only willing to believe, trust Him, and put Him back in control. This means total surrender from all the “I deserve, I shoulda, I coulda, I woulda, I’m gonna…”
Let. It. Go. This is the only way it can work. It represents total surrender to Him, the only One Who can save us…even if it means saving us from ourselves first. Trust me when I say, I went through this one “kicking and screaming” – okay, not literally. 😉
4. Put Him (Jesus, our Lord and Savior) in all the places you’ve been putting yourself.
Then…and only then…will it finally start to balance out. Trust me. It works.
For a long time, I held on to resentment, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, and the longer I held on to it, the longer I kept making it about “what I felt I should have been entitled to”, what I deserved, ya da ya da… I wasted a lot of time trying to figure it all out myself. It wasn’t until I let all of that go, and turned it all over to Him, and did just what He’d told me, that it all began to work out, and I began to finally have peace.
Now, for no. 5…
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5. Put down the pencil. – That’s right, just give Him the “pencil”!
After all, HE ALREADY HAD YOU FIGURED INTO THE EQUATION – long before you or I were even born. We need only turn to His Word for proof of this…
  • Genesis 15:5 – “And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.”
  • Galatians 3:8-9 – “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed. So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.”
  • Galatians 3:29 – “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
  • Matthew 10:30 – “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
  • Luke 12:7 – “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.”
  • Matthew 6:26-27 – “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”
  • Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

And this one, which speaks for itself, as all of God’s Word does…

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  • Psalm 139:13-16 – “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.”
The Grand Equation…
Too many times, the hurt, damaged self esteem, and feelings of worthlessness we have suffered at the hands of others leaves us damaged in ways that have left us unable to trust our Heavenly Father, Who only wants the best for us, and created us with His perfect plan in mind for each of us.
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Only He sees the grand equation of the plan He had for our lives, fully balanced out, with all the factors in place, blessings He had originally intended for us, many of which we often forfeit when we insist on being in control and doing things our way. Far too often, we grieve His Spirit when we do this, and we hinder, or delay His ultimate plan for us.
Jeremiah 29:11 “sums” it up best: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” – KJV
The New King James Version renders it this way: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
In truth, it is only in finally letting go, releasing it all to Him, turning the “pencil” over to Him, and trusting Him to balance it all out, in His perfect, all-knowing, all-seeing way, as He sees fit, that we will finally begin to see that we are already a part of a far grander equation than we could have ever dreamed possible. We only see one page, of the greater “book” that He sees, the “bestseller” He penned, with you as the main character, long before you were even born. 
If you know someone who needs this word of encouragement, please share via the buttons below! And don’t forget to subscribe to my email, via the tab above so you can receive email notifications of my book, “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door”, coming soon, as well as future book releases.