When There’s Nothing Left: Dwelling in God’s Peace – 5 Things We Can Learn From Job #BibleDwellers #BookofJob

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At trails park, my husband in background.

So I was going through some of my pictures, trying to pick out one or two to use for this post. I came across these I took on a summer outing to a local trail park with my husband and grandsons a couple of years ago. The dandelion reminded me of when I would pick one when I was little and try to bring it to my mother. It always made me almost want to cry when all the little thingies blew off before I could get it to her. But now, looking a little closer, I decided it would be perfect for what I want to discuss in this post…the story of Job, one of the “Dwellers” in the Bible, as was the subject of the message brought this past Thursday night at our church. If you think about it, all those little “flyers” that float through the air when you blow on it (my youngest grandson still likes to do this) could represent all of the things that Job lost during his trials: his family, his health, and everything he had. Actually, we’d probably need a hundred or so of them to more accurately represent his losses. After a child or someone blows on it, all that is left is the stem…just the way many of us have felt at times in our lives, right?

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My youngest grandson, Julien, at the trails park, blowing a dandelion. We call him “Juju”. ❤ 

Now, more than ever before, God’s people are going through difficult trials, and Jesus said that during the last days it would be this way (See Matthew, ch. 24 and Mark, ch. 13). Being realistic, most of us will go through traumatic events, tragedies, and difficult times at some point in our lives, and all too often, we turn to man-made solutions, and everything else but God. I’ll be the first to admit, I have done this, more than I’d care to admit. Now, I am learning, more than ever, what it means to really “cast our cares upon Him” (see 1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22). My faith has grown in leaps and bounds since I have learned to pray for others in my church family and community, and not just myself and my family (see Romans 2:11, Galatians 6:2, Phil. 2:2-4).

Most of us have to admit that at one time or another, we’ve referred to ourselves or someone we love as a “modern day Job”. But have we really taken the time to read the book of Job and take into consideration all that he went through? Better still, for those of us who feel we have endured similar circumstances where we’ve suffered such significant loss that it’s left us feeling hopeless, like nothing matters anymore, what could Job teach us? How could we learn from his story and how he handled it all? Perhaps we would be more inspired to learn from him if we were to read his story and see how his faith paid off in the end. Truthfully, I can’t think of a better one to learn from than Job, if we ever have to face a time when there’s nothing left…

Would You Still Trust Him? Have You Been “Considered”? (If you are serving Christ, and you haven’t, you most likely will be)…

First, before I go any further, let me give a special shout out to my sister in Christ, Rev. Tamika Clark, who inspired this post. She brought a powerful message on the “Dwellers” of the Bible this past week at our church. Basing it on Psalm 91:1-2, she named several throughout the Bible who were dwellers, men who chose to dwell securely in their faith in God, and saw His answers to their prayers.

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” – Psalm 91:1-2

During the message, she gave a challenge for us to go and read the book of Job, and learn from it, and perhaps post what we learn. So, being one who loves to accept a challenge, the next day, I did just that. Then too, I am a writer, this is what I do. But I must give credit where it is due. I have to say, I woke up Friday morning with some things coming to me about this, and I just had a knowing that God was placing it in my heart to do this.

Soooo… after starting my day in our prayer room, and my husband and I had finished our morning devotions, I sat there and read the entire book. I want to say I have read it before, but it’s been a while, so I went ahead and read it through again. In reflecting on Job’s story after I had read it, some interesting points came out to me. As I prayed about it and thought it over, I found that it spoke volumes on trusting God in the midst of suffering and trials, and paints a picture of a man who remained steadfast in his faith and love for God, all the way through to the end.

In all that he suffered throughout this whole trial, yet Job never cursed God. As Rev. Tamika brought out in her message, we have to each ask ourselves, could we still love God and stand strong in our faith and loyalty to Him if we were to be considered as Job was? (See Job, chapter 1.) Would our faith stand strong through the trial, as his did? Would we still love Him and trust in Him, even if we reach that point that there was nothing left? Then too, this can happen in many different ways, divorce, job loss, divisions in the family, debilitating accidents (such as the one I went through, click here for more info on my upcoming book) as well as tragedy.

To summarize the book of Job: As the book begins, two times, the devil goes before the Lord, and each time, the Lord asks him if he has considered Job: “Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” – (ch. 1, vs. 8). He is told that all that Job has is in the devil’s power, only do not lay a hand on his person. So, Job loses his livestock, his servants, and all of his children. Then, of course, the devil cannot resist, so going back before God the second time, he gains permission to further torment Job, and so, Job loses his health. As the story unfolds, Job is then visited by his three “friends” who proceed to voice their opinions on the matter, accusing him of being a hypocrite, speculating as to whatever great sin Job has committed to deserve all of these calamities that have befallen him. All three are convinced he has to have committed some terrible sin against God to bring all of this on himself. Yet none of them are getting anywhere, as he has something to say each time, so they finally give up. Then, finally, when they’re done, another young man is angered and decides to get his two cents worth in. He is angry at the other three because they have condemned Job without cause, having found no answers (his “rant” begins in ch. 32), and at Job because he “justified himself rather than God”.

Meanwhile… God is just waiting patiently for all of these to get through, and in chapter 38, it says He answers Job out of a whirlwind, and His response, His challenge to Job, is recorded in chapters 38 through 41. I found this part quite interesting. Here are the first 5 verses: “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said “Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know!” Job’s response quickly follows in chapter 42, verses 1-6:

Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.”

In the end, Job repented of his anger and hasty answers before God, and so God forgave him, and let the other 3 know that His wrath was aroused against them (chapter 42, verses 7-9). God also restored to Job twice as much as what all he had lost, after he had prayed for his friends. Interestingly enough, in verse 16, it says Job lived after all of this one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations.

Interesting Points: 5 Things We Can Learn From Job…

  1. Unshakable Faith in our Redeemer… In chapter 19, verses 25-27, in answer to Bildad, the Shuhite’s accusations, basically insinuating that he “doesn’t know God”, (thus, all of this befalling him), Job makes it plain that even after all God has allowed him to go through, he still proclaims his faith in his redeemer: For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Are we building up our faith in Him through studying His Word and staying in prayer and fellowship with Him, so that if we were to go through such a trial, our faith in Him would remain unshakable? The key is to keep trusting Him, no matter what, and not listen to our “flesh”. Job saw beyond the flesh, choosing instead to focus on the end result, as we can clearly see by his response here. 
  2. Trusting God’s Righteous Judgments… It is interesting to read the “rant” from Eliphaz the Temanite in chapter 22, then note Job’s response in chapter 23, especially in verses 10 -12, where he clearly lets him know he trusts in God’s righteous judgments: But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food.” Do we trust Him no matter what? More than anything or anyone else? Job knew there obviously had to be something God wanted him to learn through all of this. He knew that even though he couldn’t understand it, or why it was all happening, He trusted in God’s righteous judgment in allowing it, and He trusted that God would work it all out for his good. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Isaiah 55:11 further confirms this: So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” His Word will not return to Him void! All things work together for our good, no matter how hard the devil tries to make us think otherwise. Job believed in what he could not yet see (see Hebrews 11:1), and that faith worked for him, just as it will for us. Just as in Job’s case, what the devil intends to destroy us, God will use to make us stronger, AND, He will vindicate us for our losses, and turn it all into a powerful testimony, if we only trust Him, even through the pain.
  3. Repenting for his family/children… Going back to the beginning, in chapter one, (this was also brought out in Sister Tamika’s message), Job would regularly offer burnt offerings for them all (before the time of Christ on earth), so he regularly prayed to God on their behalf. How many of us, when we feel we have been wronged, whether by friends, co-workers, or even family, can we pray and repent on their behalf? Note again here, in the end, in that last chapter, Job’s losses were restored to him, even more children, after he had prayed for his three friends and forgiven them himself, basically repented on their behalf. Of course, we know those who have wronged us will have to repent on their own to God, but again, Job’s vindication came from God, for all he had suffered, not only after his own repentance, but in offering the prayers for forgiveness for his friends, as if you read God’s initial response to them in chapter 42, verses 7-8: And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. 
  4. God Knew the Devil Would Lose this Battle… We have to remember here, that God knew how this whole thing was going to turn out from the beginning. (I’m actually picturing God, shaking His head, with a big grin on His face as the devil walks off.) In reading chapter one, we have the conversation between God and the devil: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” Clearly, the devil thought he would no doubt, win this whole thing, and get Job to turn against God. But think about it. He is clearly being offered a chance to get at the most Godly and faithful man there was, on earth even! Yet, through it all, it says in verse 22: “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” Even in chapter 2, verse 10, (after being struck with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the top of his head) when his wife asks why doesn’t he just curse God and die, he answers: “…“You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” It further reads, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”. And even through all the torment he went through with the “debate” with his three “friends” and all their accusations and speculations, and his defense rants he retorted back to them, yet his faith was never shaken. Why should it be? He knew God Himself was his “Attorney”, and that His judgment was the only one that mattered. Throughout all that he lost, he never cursed God, and in the end, after he prayed for his friends and forgave them, even as he knew God had forgiven him once, God restored to him twice all that he had lost. Job’s faith was tested in the fiery furnace, and because he never lost faith in God, (as God well knew that he wouldn’t) and indeed, continued to praise him, even after the loss of his children, his health, his wealth, and everything, he came out “as fine gold”, just as he had said he would (ch. 23, vs. 10-12). He did, and we will too, if we keep our faith, and our focus, on our Redeemer, and not what others say. Like Job did, we must place our trust in the One Who laid the foundations of the earth, and what His Word says about us, not what our naysayers think. 
  5. The Boils – What We Can Learn From His Pain… If you’ve ever known anyone who has had them, they are no doubt likely some of the most painful kind of sores you can get. As I woke up and went into the prayer room that morning, the Lord brought to my mind an insightful comparison on this. If you apply this in a spiritual context, many of us are walking around with deep emotional wounds that we’ve managed to hide, even from ourselves. Only after going through some fiery trials myself during the past few years have I finally begun to see this. Like many others, sometimes it seems after a “wound” is almost “healed”, there is always something else that happens, or is thrown upon us, or someone who hurts us, in a way that seems to “rip the scab” off again, leaving us “bleeding” emotionally, or in a spiritual sense. We can’t understand why it happens, after we’ve prayed about it, fasted, and prayed some more, yet still, it happens. (We must understand here, that when we “hide” our wounds, instead of giving it fully to God, the enemy sees this, and he will hit us where it hurts.) Many times, instead of really trusting God, we say we’ve prayed about it, but then, we still keep “nursing it”. No doubt Job, in his initial discourse, was in enough pain to regret the day he was born. Yet, like Job, we must remember, God, our Healer and loving Heavenly Father, will bring us through these painful trials, and bring us healing and deliverance, in His time, not ours. In my own personal experience, I found myself at times, feeling sorry for myself, (even sometimes, calling it “prayer”), in effect, “nursing” those wounds again, when it finally occurred to me the more I sought the Word and prayed about it, that He can’t “heal” all those old wounds I’ve been covering up and hiding, even from myself, until I completely turn it all over to Him. Then, there won’t be an old “wound” for the scab to be ripped off to start with! When we get in the Word, believe it, and speak it over our situation, this breaks the enemy’s power to use it over us any longer! God wants to heal all those old wounds in our hearts, and use it all to make us stronger, but we have to open the door of our hearts and let Him in so He can!

When There is Nothing Left…

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Another encouraging reminder, on the wall in my work room.

In reflecting on my own journey through life, I’ve gone through some “Job” trials, and before it’s all over, no doubt, I will go through more. Jesus said as long as we are on the earth, we will have trials. In John 16:33, He said: 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.”. At age twelve, I lost my nine year old brother, Charles, in a tragic freak accident, and at twenty, I was in a horrific automobile accident that almost took my own life. The road to recovery for me was a long and hard one, and because of the choices I made early in my life, it was a lot harder. There were times I almost threw in the towel. Even in more recent trials I have gone through as I work toward getting my books finished and preparing for my ministry, I have had times I felt like that. Yet, through God’s grace I am still here. We will go through those fiery trials as long as we are on this earth as we work while we await our Lord’s return. But if we:

  • Never lose faith in our Redeemer
  • Trust His righteous judgments as Job did (in other words, stop second guessing Him and questioning why He lets things happen-again, see Romans 8:28)
  • Open our hearts so He can go in and heal all of those old “wounds”,
  • Study His Word, and let it build our faith, then…
  • Speak it over the situation!…

…It is then that we will have developed the truly unshakable faith that Job had. It is then, as we are passed through the fire, that the impurities are removed, all those weaknesses we had before are purged out, and then that we will come out tried as fine20180708_171051 gold. Yet, in His infinite wisdom, God knows that sometimes, it is in reaching our lowest valleys in this life, when we feel we have lost everything, when there is nothing left but God Himself, that we finally see that He is all we need. Perhaps that is what motivated the previous residents of our home to put this on the wall in our laundry room: “When you have nothing left but God, you become aware that God is enough”. Job’s point, exactly.

The Most Priceless Perfume You Could Ever Wear…

A reflection on 2 Corinthians, 1 & 2, emphasis: chapter 2, verses 14 & 15…This is something God led me to for our devotion this past week, and I thought it was so powerful that I just had to share it!
For those of you who may read my posts regularly, you know as an author, I have, up until now, only written fiction books (see my two currently available books in the side bar, or visit my home page). Currently, I have other projects I am still working on, which I hope to have available soon, but one, for which I am currently looking at publishers, is a non-fiction book, which will be inspirational to those who have suffered traumatic events and/or are giving up on faith in God. It will have my testimony of my near death experience in a horrific automobile accident in November of 1985. Click here to read more on this. Be sure to hit the subscribe tab above if you or someone you know would be interested in a copy when it comes out.

Priceless Perfume?

What do the words “expensive perfume” make you think of? Chances are, you are already naming off a few brand names. What are your favorites? How about “priceless perfume”? Perhaps you are thinking only celebrities could afford it if it was “priceless”. But the type of perfume I am talking about here is much more priceless than any of it…

2 Corinthians, Chapter 1 at a Glance…

In chapter 1, after talking about the “trouble” they ran into in Asia, so that they “despaired even of life” (verse 8), Paul thanks the Corinthians for their prayers for them (verse 11), and reminds them that they do not operate their ministry according to the flesh, or “fleshly wisdom”, but by the grace of God (verse 12). He goes on to remind them of the “yes” of the promises of God. I have read the entire New Testament, and one of the things that really impresses me about Paul’s ministry is, he put his whole heart into it, and didn’t just go one time to preach the Gospel to these people, he made it his life’s purpose to go back and follow up on them. In his writing to them here, he actually gives them the route he had intended to take to come by and see them. If you go back and study Philippians, chapter 4:10-17, he talks about giving, not that he “desires gifts from them”, but that “fruit abounds to their account”. He knew that once they understood this, and gave, either in money or provisions, food, etc, to help in his ministry, they would be “bearing fruit”, and he knew they would then see the ways God would bless them back for it (you can’t out give God! Try it!).

2 Corinthians, Chapter 2, Here’s the Good Stuff!

That’s just a little background info to catch you up to what’s going on in chapter 2. Now, to get into the good stuff! Although it’s not clear (to me) whether Paul is, at this point, in prison or what his exact circumstances at this point were (pastors, teachers, anyone, feel free to comment and elaborate on this), it is fairly clear, at least to me, in verses 3-4, that he very likely wrote these words weeping, in being unable to get to them. He makes it clear here, the love (of Christ) that he so “abundantly” has for them:

And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. (verses 3-4, KJV). 

Now, that is love! Paul’s joy in his ministry was in being able to go back and see them living the joy of bearing fruit for Christ, basically saying here, “your joy is my joy”. So, what really jumped out at me in reading this chapter was, he stated 4 reasons in his writing to them:

  1. Their joy (in Christ) is his joy, not sorrowing Him, but the joy of seeing the fruit of his labor, thus, his dedication in actually following up on them.
  2. That they would know his dedication and his love for them, in reflecting for them, the love of Christ for them all, which was his affirmation that he had gotten through to them, seeing the fruit of his labor, thus how he was able to rejoice, even in prison, through the tears he wrote them through.
  3. Reminding them of the importance of forgiving and comforting those who did wrong (“caused grief”, verse 5) as Christ forgives us, in His great love for us.
  4. To “put them to the test” as stated in verses 9-11, reminding them that not forgiving, as Christ forgives us, opens the door for the devil, (verse 11b-“…for we are not ignorant of his devices”).

Now, for the really good part! So, what, you may be asking, does all of this have to do with perfume? No doubt, if you really wanted to do some research on this, they did have “perfumes” in those days. Here are some other Bible verses about perfume. In Matthew 2:11, the wise men visited the Christ child and gave Him gifts of what would have been very expensive oils or perfumes in that time:

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” -Matthew 2:11, KJV

And I actually found this! —> Scents of the Bible, click here!

Mark 14:3 tells the story of the woman with the alabaster box. Although the King James version doesn’t mention the word, several other translations refer to the costly perfume it held as “Nard”, which is actually one of the scents above, which is an Amazon page on which you can buy these 3 perfumes.

Now, back to 2 Corinthians, the two verses I especially wanted to emphasize here are verses 14 & 15:

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: (King James version)

The New King James version of the Bible renders it this way:

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

In doing the things Paul was so dedicated to teaching us in showing the love and forgiveness of Christ to others, and being a Godly example in our daily actions, we “diffuse the fragrance of His knowledge” wherever we go, we are the “fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing”. For an insightful post I wrote this past Christmas on doing just that for those who “no longer feel the joy of Christmas” click here. 

When we go to dress up for a special occasion, we wouldn’t put on cheap perfume that stinks. Just the same, if we don’t do these things Paul talked about, and conduct any ministry we try to have in the ways Paul reminds us here, and show Christ’s love to others we minister to as he did, then, we “stink”. Plain and simple. We must “diffuse the fragrance of Christ”, everywhere we go, or we stink. And who wants that?

And you know I just had to include this for you. We’ve all felt like that woman at one point or other. So, here you go, enjoy, and go be that “Fragrance of Christ”!

Stumbling Stones or Stepping Stones: Is There a Book Stuck Inside You? #writeyourbook #whatsyourstory?

Write that book
What’s YOUR story? What’s holding you back?

Could God be calling YOU to write a book and tell your story? The truth is, God is no respecter of persons (see Acts 10:34 & Romans 2:11), and what He has done for one, He will do for another. If you have a testimony of a traumatic event or trying situation God has delivered you from, then it is now your testimony! What have you learned from it? How could the wisdom and strength you’ve gained from it help others? Here are some Bible verses about letting God use our testimony to help others.

Is writing a book one of your goals? If not, maybe it should be. Maybe like a lot of folks, you have been walking around with a book stuck inside of you, you just haven’t known how to go about writing it. Or if you are like many I’ve talked to, you may not even realize you have a story that needs to be told. In truth, I think a lot of people are in that last category. I know I was for a long time.

In too many cases, I think it is too easy for us to allow the devil to convince us that we are useless, that whatever it is that happened to us has destroyed us to the point that there is no way possible that we can ever be any good to others. So, the reality is, there are a lot of people walking around feeling lost, defeated, and useless, but this could not be farther from the truth, when in fact, their stories could help others. All we have to do is surrender it all to Jesus, the “Author and finisher of our faith” (See Hebrews 12:1-2, this of course, is put in better context if you read the 11th chapter, what has been referred to as the faith chapter.)

He is able to take what the devil meant to use to destroy us, and make it into our testimony. This is something I get into more in my upcoming book, “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door”, which will have my testimony of my Near Death Experience in a very traumatic automobile accident in November 1985. Click here for more on this. Be sure to subscribe if you want to know when it comes out!

Stumbling Stone or Stepping Stone?

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Pic taken on a trip to Cherokee, NC in 2012. Are you going to be a “rock” in your own path, or the water that goes around it?

So, what about you? Have you been through a traumatic experience? Do you want to learn more about how God can use your story to help others? Are you ready to learn how you can surrender it all to Christ and let Him turn it into a dynamic and powerful testimony to be used for His glory? Whatever it is that happened to you, you can either let it continue to be a stumbling stone, or give it to Him and let Him turn it into a stepping stone, one that will lead to greater paths as you pursue your destiny. The above picture was taken on a trip I took to Cherokee, NC in, I believe it was May, 2012. I was at a very low point in my life. I stayed at the Dancing Stones Cabin. I needed to just get away from it all, and desperately needed some “Me and God” time. When I first saw it online, it was like I felt the place was calling me.

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On the back porch of the Dancing Stones Cabin, where I “had coffee with God”.

That last morning, as I sat out there on the porch, sipping my coffee and just being in His presence, one of the things He said to me was, “The water in the river, when it comes to a rock, does not stop and wait for the rock to move. It simply goes around the rock and continues on its merry way. Are you going to be a rock in your own path, or are you going to be the water that goes around the rock?” I sat there and thought about what He had said, and later went down to spend a few moments by the river. Now, when I look at the above picture, I think about those words He said to me that morning, and how long I was a “rock in my own path”, allowing the devil to use all that had happened to me to “cripple” me spiritually. I had allowed it all to be a stumbling stone, but now, through God’s grace, it has now been turned into a stepping stone.

Perhaps you are more the type to write fiction. In truth, I think it is possible to write life-changing, thought provoking fictional stories that will truly inspire others. The important thing to remember here is, don’t just get caught up in writing what the world wants to read, what will get you a place on the New York Times Best Seller List. Okay, yes, that would be nice. But Paul reminds us in Philippians 2:3 to “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit”. Trust me. I was that person for too long, and that is where my main motive with my writing was. Now, I understand more, why God led me to that verse again and again, until it finally started to sink in, just what He was trying to tell me. It is no longer enough for me to just write what I think will hit the best seller lists, but to write what He gives me, the message, or the stories that He has put in my heart, as He has guided me through the experiences of my life, the wisdom I have gained in my walk with Him. The truth is, it is far too easy these days, to go with what the rest of the world is doing, and too easy to allow that “selfish ambition” to take over and be our main motivation. For me, the rewards of serving Him will be far greater than any best seller status could ever offer, and much greater than anything the world has to offer.

For more on how to write a book, here is a simple guide from bestselling author, Jerry Jenkins. Here is another helpful post by Joanna Penn on her website/blog for writers, The Creative Penn. She also has a course she is offering, scroll down toward the bottom of the page to see it, along with tons of helpful articles she’s posted, and resources to help you get started. A simple Google search will reveal other courses on how to write your novel, many of them free, and by bestselling authors.

As I have said earlier, I have mainly taken the self publishing route up until now, but I have my reasons for it, as my first two books aren’t in popular genres, but my husband and I are very excited about what God is going to do with my latest projects. Here are a couple of earlier posts I did recently, in a little “mini series,” Book Writing for Procrastinators, Part 1 and Part 2, which are loaded with tips and links to more helpful resources from a few of my friends in the writing field who have helped to pave the way for others.

Book Writing for Procrastinators… 8 Ways to Learn from the Pros, Get Started, and Write that Best Seller! #writingtipsfornewbies

Book Writing for Procrastinators, Part 2: Overcoming Distractions & Mind Blocks #WhatsYourStory #WritersHelpingWriters

I think you will find these exciting to get into and explore. After all, I am only one writer helping others, shining my light for Him in whatever way I can to help others, and do all I can to make sure that no one I may pass by goes through their life with a story trapped inside of them.

I have learned from my mistakes. I chose to surrender it all to Jesus, and let Him take my “stumbling stones” and turn them into “stepping stones” that will lead to the greater path of being the best I can be, through Him (Philippians 4:13), and helping others along the way, to be the best they can be too. I hope you will be one of them!

So, what’s YOUR story? The world is waiting!

 

The Light that Still Guides Us: Reaching Out to Those that No Longer Feel the Joy of Christmas

“When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” – Matthew 2:9-11

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”
Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Three wise men and the star

Well, here it is, Christmas time again, everyone’s favorite time of year…or not…

Unfortunately, with each passing year, more and more people I know have ended up in that second category. For these people and their families, the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays no longer hold the joy they once did. They are unable to feel the joy of the season because of the overwhelming feelings of grief and sadness. In many cases, the loss of their loved one has happened unexpectedly, only weeks or days before the beginning of the holiday season. Then too, others are unable to “get into the spirit” because they know they will be spending the holidays alone. Of course, being a “military brat” myself, my Dad having served fourteen years in the U.S. Army, I know first hand, there are many who have a loved one who happens to be deployed at the time of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. I also know what it’s like to feel the pangs of grief because of a loved one taken way too soon, and the big hole it leaves in your heart, and your family. For these reasons, I couldn’t let this Christmas go by without at least offering my take on it all. I know that all the pretty words in the world won’t bring a loved one back, but still, a comforting word from one who’s been there can help more than you know.

No matter what reason a family you know might find themselves with an empty chair at their Christmas table this year, we cannot forget the reason we are celebrating Christmas in the first place, and it is because of Him, our Savior, Jesus Christ, God’s gift to us, that was given so that we could receive the gift of eternal life. We cannot forget that if we have that light of hope in our hearts that comes through having a relationship with Him, then we can share that light with others who are less fortunate than ourselves, those who are hurting, and those who are so overcome with sadness and grief, especially when it involves one who was lost way too soon, who had their whole lives ahead of them. I know several classmates (different schools) who have tragically lost a child. I also know from experience, what my family, especially my parents, went through when we lost my brother, Charles, at only 9 years old. The Christmas of ’77 is forever etched in my memory, and at times over the years, it has seemed almost as if I have been unable to move past that point. There were 3 of us kids, I was the oldest, 12 at the time. Our younger brother had just started school. Charlie’s passing left a big hole in our family that nothing can ever fill…that is, except the love and comfort of our Savior, the “peace that passes understanding”. But those who are hurting will never know we care, and that He cares, if we don’t share it with them.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16

For those families, friends, or others we may know who are going through this, it goes without saying that it can be rather painful, to see all of the photos posted on (I’ll just say, “social media”), of the seemingly picture perfect families, and the beautifully set holiday dinner tables. Then too, even for those who still manage to gather together for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, or even a New Year’s party, no matter how nicely and festively, or sparsely, their table might be set, it does nothing for the emptiness and pain of grief they feel because of that empty chair, where someone they loved should have been. Whether it’s a family grieving the loss of a loved one, a family facing Christmas without a deployed parent, husband, or wife, or someone spending Christmas alone for the first time, (I’ve been through my share of “Hard Candy Christmases”, too) it can be all too easy to label them a “Scrooge” or a “Grinch” when they post on social media about how they are unable to get into the Christmas spirit, or something to that extent (Okay, so you just thought it, that’s still just as bad, but hey, we’re all guilty on that one). I’ll even go so far as to say that with all that has been going on lately, and having just lost a cousin on my Dad’s side, I will admit I myself have been feeling more like a “Scrooge” at the beginning of the season. But let’s just back this whole thing up a minute…

This morning, my husband and I were led to Matthew, chapter 18. At the beginning of the chapter, Jesus calls a little child to Him, and tells those listening, that in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we must all become like little children. So, to illustrate my point, I am going to do just that…

My youngest grandson recently spent some time with us during a period of transition with his daycare, and during that time, he wanted to watch “The Grinch that Stole Christmas”, the movie version with Jim Carrey as the Grinch, again and again. So, after awhile, I found myself really thinking about that story. I still remember the cartoon version of it we used to watch as kids. In the story, of course, we all know how the Grinch went to all that trouble to steal all the Christmas gifts, the turkeys and fixings for the Whos’ Christmas dinners, and even the Christmas trees, down to the last ornament, which he snatches up with glee, yet in the end, Christmas still came, without all the boxes, bags, bows, gifts, Christmas trees or decorations.

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”

Perhaps, if we really stop and think about it for a moment, we can really begin to see how the moral of this story applies to all of us. Christmas will come, whether or not our tables are decorated with all the fancy fixings, or the least that could be afforded. It will come whether or not our homes are all aglow with lights and decorations, and it will come, no matter what is under the tree, or how many or how few gifts there are. And it will come just the same, to those who have empty chairs at their Christmas dinner table.

For those of us who have the Savior, our Lord, Jesus Christ living in our hearts, it is that same light that lit up the night sky those years ago as the bright, shining star that the wise men followed until they came to where the Christ child lay, that is still guiding us. (And by the way, as far as I have been able to see, the Bible does not actually say there were “three” wise men. It doesn’t even mention how many there were, or if they actually rode camels. In fact, although most pictures we’ve seen depict three wise men on camels following the star, and the “stable” in the distance, the Bible actually seems to indicate that it was probably sometime later before they arrived to see Him. Note that in verse 11 of Matthew 2, above, it says, “and when they had come into the house…”, not a stable. Click here to read more on this.)

So what I am saying is…if we truly have His light shining in us, then it goes without saying that we will be looking around us and taking note of those who can no longer feel the joy of Christmas. We will be His hands reaching out to help them in whatever way we can, whether it’s through sending a card, providing some needed food supplies, or a meal. We will be His mouth speaking a comforting word, and His feet walking to do whatever we can to show them we care, for if that light is truly shining within us, then and only then, will they see and feel the true, healing, and comforting joy and peace of Christmas.

That light is still guiding us, for the same Christ that the wise men worshipped that night, is the One Who lives inside of each of us, and “Christmas” is already inside of us. It is that light that they’re looking for, not what’s under the tree or on the table. So, think of this, next time you wish someone a Merry Christmas. And if we can’t show that love of Christ to others in need, whether they are friends, family, or people we don’t even know, then perhaps we’re the ones being a “Grinch” or a “Scrooge”. Besides, if we take even a moment to look at Christmas through the eyes of little “Cindy Lou Who”, perhaps it is then, that it will all make a bit more sense.

If the light of His love, the light of God’s hope that lit that star up those years ago, is truly shining through us, then every day is Christmas! Why wait for that one time of year to actually reach out and show His love to others? With that said, thanks for stopping by, feel free to share this with anyone who could use it! I hope you and your family have a truly wonderful Christmas, and a blessed New Year!

I Almost Died…Coming Soon – My NDE Testimony & God’s CPR For Your Faith!

(UPDATE: I now have my own imprint, which the book will be published under, so stay tuned, more info coming soon! Subscribe so you don’t miss it!) 

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

Blurred hospital corridor concept emergency case

Have you been through a traumatic event? 

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!

On Saturday, November 16, 1985, 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 very possibly passed through death’s door.

Have you felt like giving up? 

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” (tentative title), which should be available soon. (I’ll keep you posted!)

Does your faith need God’s CPR? 

Now, in my book coming soon, I will share my story, along with what I’ve learned on my long road to healing, and the special kind of “CPR” your faith needs. I will also explain why giving up is simply not an option in these last days as we work to build the Kingdom for our Lord Jesus Christ as we await His soon return. In sharing my story, it is my hope 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! So don’t give up until you read my book!

We ARE living in the last days! Giving up is NOT an option!

I believe without a doubt, we are living in the last days before our Lord’s soon return. We must work harder than ever before to “bring in the harvest”, and God has a plan for you to be a part of it! He wants to take whatever it is you’ve been through and turn it into a powerful testimony that will help win others to Him while there is still time.

“But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.” – Matthew 24:13 (KJV)

I have my own imprint for the book, and it is in the finishing stages, so I will hopefully have a release date sometime in the near future. 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! If you know someone who has been through a traumatic event and could use some “CPR” for their faith, please feel free to share this to your Facebook, Twitter, etc, using the buttons below.

And thanks for stopping by!

Remembering 9/11: Where Were You? #911Tributes

(Photo Credit: John Skelson, at bottom right of photo)

“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

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. A lot has happened since then. I have since been reunited with the one I should have never walked away from 30 plus years ago. You could say he was my high school sweetheart, although let’s just say there was a lot we didn’t know then (and thought we knew it all) and leave it at that. We were married December 23, 2014 in Gatlinburg, TN. I am at peace with my life now, and as a writer, with 2 books currently on Amazon and more to come, I had it in my heart to share my own experience of that day. 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 brother, a sister, a son, a daughter, and the list goes on…

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, and my kids grew up, things changed, people moved on, and 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. So wherever you are, if you can tell your story, or light a candle, 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[a] 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,[b] 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.

In loving memory of all those who were lost in the September 11, 2001 tragedies, you are gone, but you are not forgotten. We will never forget.

I do not drink, nor endorse it in any way, but I have always thought this was a truly touching tribute to 9/11. May we never forget…

Where were you that September day? What will you do to help light someone else’s candle of hope today?

 

Easter Reflections: Through a Grandmother’s Eyes

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I am taking a moment to venture from the usual fare, of books and writing and so forth, to share my reflections of this past Easter. After all, without our risen Savior as my guide, I most certainly would not be where I am now. I have been many things, but I share this with you, through my eyes as a grandmother.

At first glance, when you look at this picture, you might think of it merely as a nice picture of a buttercup. (Yes, I am a flower and nature lover). But then, look closer. There he is, in the background, a simply adorable little boy who was also enjoying the park with his parents, and a photographer.

The park I am referring to is more of a beautiful garden that was created by the owner in memory of his wife as a tribute to her. It is located in Lillington, NC. At the stop light, instead of turning right onto Main St, turn left and it will be down on the left. I am quite certain weddings have been held there as well as other family celebrations. I recently spoke with the lady who is now caring for it. If I remember correctly, he was her father in law. He has now passed on, but the beauty of this lovely place, that few seem to know about, remains to be enjoyed by anyone who desires to stop by. It is where my husband, Keith, and I had our engagement pictures taken, and has long been sort of my “secret place” to go to. It was also part of the inspiration for another of my books I am working on, “Love’s Timeless Garden”, which will be coming sometime in the near future.

After we got out of church on this beautiful Easter Sunday, my husband, Keith, and I prepared to go to visit my daughter and her husband, and my other daughter and my grandsons. We hid Easter eggs and enjoyed watching my young grandsons hunt for them. It was also one of my grandsons’ birthday, so we brought him his birthday gifts as well. We grilled out and took time to visit with them and talk with the children about school and other things. It was a good visit, and we drove back home feeling tired but blessed.

We were also blessed with a wonderful Easter Service at our church. We enjoyed singing with the choir and celebrating our Risen Savior! In addition to the other songs we sang, I sang one that I have always wanted to sing. With the choir joining in with me at the end, once again, the morning of the first Easter came to life with this song, one of my favorites, that has been performed by Dolly Parton as well as others…

Then, as the Pastor brought the message, we took the children back into the fellowship hall for Children’s Church. Although we didn’t actually count them, I am certain we had around twenty or so. As we both have had experience as substitute teachers, our experience came in handy. We did some fun things with them to help them learn what Easter is all about. All in all, it was something we enjoyed doing, and we emerged more confident because of how much easier it is to work with them considering our experience. Here’s where my grandmother radar kicks in.

As a grandmother, I have had many “teaching moments” with my grandsons. We as grandparents look for those little moments to take advantage of. Whether your grandchildren call you “Mamaw”, as my grandsons call me, or “Memaw”, “Nana”, or “Nanny” as we all called my grandmothers, or “Papa”, “Pawpaw”, or “Grandpa”, our greatest treasures in life are in looking back and treasuring these times with our grandchildren as they grow older, and in knowing that those little “life lessons” we have taught them will go with them throughout their adult lives. It is in knowing that we have taken every opportunity we could find to teach them, and to do it in a fun way that will stick with them, and one day become the treasured memories that they in turn will hand down to their children and grandchildren, that we can truly know we have served that name well, whatever it is they call you. It’s in knowing we have done this to the best of our ability that we can be blessed in seeing the smiles that come to their faces when they get to come and see you. Some of my fondest memories are of going on “dinosaur walks” with my grandsons. The sticks were the “dinosaur” bones. Other favorite times I have enjoyed as “Mamaw” are in reading them stories, especially some of the same ones I read to their mothers when they were little, and in sharing fun memories of their mothers and their uncle as they were growing up. Other times, I have taken a moment to take one of them aside and sit and talk with them about their feelings, when they needed to learn self control. I have enjoyed watching their individual personalities and intellectual abilities develop as they grow older.

We could go on all day sharing these memories, but the one thing we know for sure is, once you are a grandparent, you never see children the same way again. Perhaps that is why I have now begun to have a new attitude towards all children. Just like with my own grandchildren, I find myself wanting all children to have those priceless “grandma” or “grandpa” moments. You may not be a grandma or grandpa yet, and your own children may still be small, or maybe even teenagers, but the memories you are creating today are the “grandpa” or “grandma” moments you will one day share with your own grandchildren. Make them great ones, and make them count.

Perhaps that is why the picture above is priceless to me. Sure my husband knows I am quite the “shutterbug” when it comes to taking pictures. He even stopped for me to take photos of some beautiful pink dogwoods I happened to notice for the first time on that lovely Easter afternoon before we got ready to go and visit my daughters and grandsons. Call it one of those priceless moments. The family that was with the little boy, there at the lovely and timeless garden of love that was created out of a man’s love for his wife, seemed to be totally immersed into the moments with this adorable little boy, who looked almost angelic in his Easter outfit and the hat he wore.

Being the “picture taking nut” that I am, I was just itching to ask if it would be alright with them if I took a picture of him. Yet, in respect of their privacy and not wanting to disturb the peacefulness of their moments, I refrained. Yet there he is, in the background of this timeless photo, unintentionally preserved forever in a picture I was merely taking of a buttercup.

Like I said, being a grandparent changes you…forever.

Flossie Stewart, Author: Books Now a Part of JCC Library!

Every author has to start out small and work their way up. No doubt, many great authors who have achieved success started out small. Here are some examples.

With that said, I suppose I should not let it get to me that my latest two book readings have been less of a success than I would have liked them to be. Actually my first one, which was at the Breezeway Cafe’, next to the Dunn Library, had a fairly good turn out. I actually had a teacher who asked me if I would be interested in coming to read for his students. My books are also now a part of the Dunn Library, although I was in the process of redoing the covers at that time, so I still am intending to get them new updated copies.

As for the one at the Mary Duncan Public Library in Benson, it being cold and pouring rain had a lot to do with it. As for the one at the Johnston Community College Library, I suppose the laugh is on me here, as you would think that as a 2008 graduate of JCC, I would have realized that after 12:00 – 12:30, most of the students are out of class and heading off to lunch, work or home. So, of course, not one person showed up. But I still have to say, hats off to the ladies at the library, Leander Croker and Jaxie Bryan, who made me feel right at home, and also purchased my books for addition to the library!

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With Leander Croker (L) and Jaxie Bryan (R) at Johnston Community College Library

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With Jaxie Bryan, receiving my books for addition to the JCC Library! (Sorry, this one’s a little blurry.)

Return to Freedom, Voices in the Wind
My first book, Return to Freedom, Voices in the Wind, available on Amazon and B & N online.
My latest, first in the "Enchanted River of the Rose" series, now available in Kindle (Amazon) and Nook (B & N) versions for $2.99
My latest, first in the “Enchanted River of the Rose” series, now available in Kindle (Amazon) and Nook (B & N) versions for $2.99
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Believe in yourself and you will be on the “write path”, as the banner behind me says.

If there is one thing I have learned, it is that in most instances where things have not turned out the way I had planned, I have tended to have bad timing. At any rate, we live and learn. Meanwhile, you can bet that in future events and gatherings at my Alma Mater, where there is likely to be a good crowd of students present, or anywhere there is an opportunity to be an inspiration, yours truly will be there, with copies of my books available. After all, one of my main goals is to encourage others, especially other students, that there are always opportunities to use your skills and abilities, if you only believe in yourself. Walt Disney himself said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them”.

My youngest daughter graduated high school in 2010 and has also attended JCC. She is currently working on her transfer degree, as is my eldest, my son (at Fayetteville Tech). My middle child recently completed her Associates through an online college and both of my daughters are working hard towards their goals, in addition to being excellent mothers to my grandsons. For my youngest daughter, for her 2010 high school graduation, I was able to use my skills from my training in Office Systems Technology to make her graduation announcements myself, which actually came out very nice. The quote I put on the back? “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

With that said, I am proud to be an alumna of Johnston Community College. A lot has happened since I walked across that stage, some of it good, some of it not so good, but I have learned from it. I have taken the lessons life has taught me and kept moving forward, and I’ve taken my skills I gained from my time at JCC and put them to use in whatever way I could. That is what has carried me to where I am now. After all, like the many other “Indie Authors” like myself out there, we can only hope that perhaps one day, we will take our place in the “Authors’ Hall of Fame”, along with the others who started out small. For now, if I look at this experience in the positive light, I know what to do differently in the future. That and the fact that in that light, it was a milestone on my path, seeing my books become a part of the selections at the JCC Library! From that viewpoint, I walk away a winner!

So, I will simply learn from my mistakes, and keep moving forward. I will keep on using the things life and experience teach me, and if there is an opportunity for me to be an inspiration to someone else, then I will take it and run with it. It is then, that I will be on the “write path”! Believe in yourself, and never give up on your dreams. You never know, a future best seller may be trapped inside you! What ever your talent is, give it all you’ve got. Decide you are going to make it happen, and never settle for anything less! And yes, that is my tassel hanging off of the rear view mirror of our car!

All of my best to you,

Flossie Stewart, Author, JCC Class of 2008

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