Monday, October 20, 2014

Inviting Others to Our Table



Photo Courtesy

In the hotel breakfast area a young woman ate her breakfast. She stood to get a cup of coffee and saw someone. She called out to the person. 

Immediately, anyone listening could tell this woman was not a native English speaking person. Her dark brown hair, medium skin complexion, and eastern European accent made me think she might be Romanian or from some country close to there.

She used her arms to invite the person to her table. Although, I didn't hear him say anything he must have communicated "no". She didn't quit, in fact her enthusiasm bubbled. She picked up her breakfast plate and set it on a table located between them. "We come here?" She moved her arm in a circle over the table. "Big table?"

He came from around the corner carrying his laptop and books. He smiled warmly at her. The two set their materials on the table. It took a few minutes to hear what the lesson was about to be. He first mentioned a math problem, but then helped her with English pronunciation and vocabulary.

The teacher and student proceeded with their one-on-one lesson.

While watching them work I though of a setting quite the opposite. Two thousand years ago, God knew we could not go to Him to learn His ways. We all had sin. There had to be a different place for us to meet. So God sent His Son Jesus to come here. He patiently taught a godly language, godly ways, the culture of God, and so much more. He took His time and patiently used many means to communicate thoroughly and completely to each individual He taught.

For those of us who are living after Jesus' physical visit, He chose writers to record the events and words exactly as He wanted them so we too could have His instruction at any time.

Jesus smiled and laughed. He cried and was tired. He understands what we feel and longs to help those who want to learn to understand Him.

We all are like the foreign woman I saw. We all need to learn God's language in order to survive in His world. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to learn.

As I am typing this I am looking at the student and teacher. The woman put on her glasses, has her hand on her chin and is intently listening. The teacher is dramatizing sounds with his lips and drinking coffee. She looks at him as he explains. His spirit is gentle and kind. Repeating his message often.

Jesus is willing to do all of this and more for us.

Like the woman in the story above we should invite Jesus to our table.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fabulous Friday Feature-Gail Gaymer Martin




Today I welcome author: 
Gail Gaymer Martin


To win a copy
of Gail's book
Treasure of her Heart or 
By the Firefighter

Scroll to the end of the post 
to see how to get your copy.



Gail is a fellow Michigan writer. I've enjoyed getting to know Gail recently and simply had to asked her to share with us how God has led her on her writing journey. This is what she said:


The Lord's Path to Publication


I’ve learned an important lesson in my writing journey, and that is the Lord sometime has to knock me in the head before I realize what He’s trying to tell me. Perhaps you are the same kind of person. Facts have to drop into your lap and then you say, “Oh, could this be God telling me something?”

I didn’t start writing for publication until many years after I had been told I had a writing talent. My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Blackburn, wrote a note about it on my report card (and yes, I still have the card.) I’ve always written poetry as a child and then short stories, which I called novels. I created my own Nancy Drew type series with a girl named Cathy Lake and her three girlfriends. They had mysteries like the Mystery of the Rag Doll and the Mystery at Moon Lake. I still have those little notebooks too. I’m a packrat.

Later I wrote skits and plays for church and for our education staff for holiday programs, and naturally professional writing for my career as a counselor. But it wasn’t until I decided to retire from counseling and took another position as a college instructor that I began to think about writing for publication.

With my expertise in counseling and the educational credentials, I wrote parenting and teen issue articles for magazines, and for some reason found a home in Christian periodicals. From there I also added short stories and articles for Christian Sunday school papers and kids magazines. I wrote poetry for devotional booklets and devotionals.

One day, I looked at the hundreds of articles, poems, devotionals and short stories I’d sold, and I stopped cold. Could the Lord be giving me a “hint” that I should pursue my childhood dream to write books? I loved the elements of story and have always been a voracious reader.

So God finally guided me in the direction He wanted me to go, and I began writing fiction. I wrote about three full novels in one year, and began submitting way too early. I’m grateful I learned from rejection (or their kinder word: pass), and I looked for ways to improve my novels. In mid 1998, one year after I started writing fiction, I was asked by a publisher if I had another novel ready. Their concern was that the novel I had submitted might be too controversial for the very conservative readership. I said yes, even though I only had my very first novel that had been rejected so many times I couldn’t count. 

I worked on it for two weeks, using all the skills I had learned since I’d started the novel in 1997. I edited, cut scenes, added new scenes, made sure the dialogue moved the story forward. I sent the manuscript to them and received a phone call eleven days later that they wanted to contract the novel. I was thrilled.

That day I knew the Lord has His way and that my wants were heard but not acted on unless He saw a value in the direction I’d chosen. From that time, I always think of the Bible verse that says, “In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” I still use that verse to guide me as I write. I know that my wants and hopes will only come to fruition in God’s good time and not my own.

Wishing you God’s amazing “determined steps” for your writing hopes and dreams.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Multi-award-winning novelist, Gail Gaymer Martin is the author of Christian contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction with 55 published novels and four million books in print. CBS local news listed Gail as one of the four best writers in the Detroit area. She is a cofounder of American Christian Fiction Writers where she serves on the Executive Board and a member of Advanced Speakers and Writers and Christian Authors Network. Gail is a keynote speaker at churches, civic and business organizations and enjoys presenting workshops at conferences across the U.S. She is a lifetime resident of Michigan    
You can connect with Gail at: 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Treasures Of Her Heart, romantic mystery
A fashion-buyer, looking for a life with deeper meaning, leaves her career for a small town in northern Michigan to assist running her ailing great-aunt’s floundering antique business. Caught in a mystery while searching for her aunt’s missing fortune, she faces an investment company in pursuit of her aunt’s property. While saving her long-distance romance with her faithful friend, she struggles to escape her attraction to a smooth-talking womanizer. Can she overcome temptation, locate the fortune, find love and the truth to the treasures of her heart? Click here to Read an Excerpt and Reviews

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
An Old-Fashioned Christmas, including my short novel, Yuletide Treasures

Many of us have a secret picture of Christmases past—a time when windows shimmered with lacy frost and candlelight, fireplaces kept a home warm and snug, ladies’ skirts swirled and gracefully skimmed the floor, and gentlemen were gallant and true. Experience Christmases spanning over one hundred years through nine inspiring historical romances, beautifully and economically packaged for you and all your gift-giving needs.

This collection includes Yuletide Treasures, a short novel:
Arriving at the wealthy Mandalay home in Grand Rapids, Michigan shortly before Christmas, 1875, Livy is charged with her young nephew’s safekeeping and to slip Helen Mandalay a mysterious package from Livy’s brother.  A spinster, Livy is drawn to the handsome Mandalay son, Andrew, home from the lumber camps.  But Andrew has other thoughts.  Ignoring his mother’s urging to court a woman from the church — someone like Livy, Andrew prefers more earthly woman.  Despite their attempts to oppose God’s will, Livy and Andrew are led ‘on a path they had not planned to travel.

To enter the contest for either of these books by
Gail Gaymer Martin: "Treasures of Her Heart
"By the Firefighter"
leave a comment (and email address)
AND become a follower of this site, 
OR sign up to receive posts by email
if you aren't already.


US only winners may choose Kindle or paperback
International winners will win a Kindle copy


Winner announced on my facebook page.


Thank you, Gail, for Joining us This Weekend!

Don't forget to comment!



Reader, Please leave an encouraging word for Gail in the comment section. Have you experienced the same uncertainty of what God wants you to do?

If you don't have an answer, that's okay, just say howdy-do in the comment section to enter the contest. I love chatting with you.

Thanks so much for joining our chat today.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Missing the Big Things?


Photo by Mary Vee

Walking through the Chicago O'Hara airport amused me. The terminal connecting B and C has a color show with coordinated music. It seemed to be the one place few people ran to get where they were going. 

Although the lights were over my head, the colors and sound enveloped me with the same calming effect I presume others experienced.

On the other side of this tunnel, an escalator transported travelers up one level. I felt lost and walked to the first sign for directions. 





Next to the sign was an odd piece of art, something we might see in the front of a federal building or in a modern art museum. It stood as tall as me. I shrug the meaningless shape off and continued looking for the directions I needed.

I read the sign, turned back toward the odd art piece to walk toward my gate. The farther I walked, the more the odd piece of art seemed to grow before my eyes. I looked toward the mammoth ceiling and discovered the art piece was a dinosaur. 

I'm not sure if I was more distracted, or so out of my element I didn't observe the huge dinosaur watching over the terminal.

Sometimes we become so consumed with our needs, wants, thoughts, and agendas that we miss a big picture item right in front of our nose. Thankfully, God gives us time to take a few steps away from our issue to see what is really there.

Take a few moments to consider if you are missing something that needs you more than the other details on your list. If you can't see anything, take a moment and pray. Ask God if you need to notice something, change directions, etc.

Photo by Mary Vee

Maybe you are part of the big picture that we, the other readers here, need to notice. Is there something we can pray for you? Rejoice with you?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Celebrating The Special People in Our Lives


This weekend, my big sister had her birthday. She will be reading this, and probably doesn't appreciate being called big sister any more. She actually is a smidgeon shorter than me and is slimmer.

Still, my memories mostly revolve around younger years when she was the taller one. The one I looked up to (and still do). The one I ask questions, spill my guts, rant my frustrations, and yes-when we were little fought with. 

She paved the way in schools and church. My name was not Mary but Myra's little sister. I knew where to go in our high school of 3000 students because she showed me. I knew what classes to take and not take because she first tried. I knew who to hang out with and who to stay away from. And when our school had riots and the Nation Guard came to empty the school, she was the one who was hurt, not me. 

So today, I want to honor her and let her know she is important enough to have her own name. Please pop down to the comment section and say, Happy Birthday, Myra. Then come back.

You see, God loves us even more than my sister ever has or will love me. He created each one of us and whispered our name in our parent's ear, the name He knew they would feel honors us. 

Even before we were born He knew what we would be doing today. And He cares so very much that He sent His one and only Son to die for us-to take the punishment for our sin-so that we could live forever in a gorgeous place that honor's HIs name with Him.

Today, and every day God is celebrating us. We are the special people in His life. 

God also loves when we consider one another. So...who would you like to honor? And how has this person touched your life?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fabulous Friday Feature-Jennifer Slattery





Today I welcome author: 
Jennifer Slattery


To win a copy
of 
Beyond I Do

Scroll to the end of the post 
to see how to get your copy.



Jennifer has become a sweet friend in very short time. As you read her words below, you will instantly see how God has impacted her life. What a joy to read. I asked Jennifer to share with us how God has led her on her writing journey. This is what she said:


The Dream Giver

Have you ever received a gift from someone and felt like it pointed to something greater? Or perhaps someone said something in conversation that pricked your heart in an eerie, foreboding sort of way?

In October of 2009, Dr. Art Criscoe, Senior Editor of Christ to the World Ministries, sent me a book.

One that made my knees quake. One that assured me not only of the call, but that God planned to do a great deal within me, to prepare me for that call.

I had no doubt the pruning process would be painful.

The book was titled, God Meant it For Good. By R.T. Kendall, it digs deep into the life of Joseph, exploring his deepest hurts, his worst betrayals, and the long periods of isolation he endured, reminding the reader of the bigger picture. And assuring them that, if called, God will likely do the same for them. For our good. For every dream comes with great responsibility.

Though I had no idea what lay ahead, I sensed God was moving me toward something.

Grabbing my ipod and running shoes for what I hoped to be a clarity-inducing time, I began pounding the pavement. Mile after mile, song after song, I sensed God’s Spirit stirring within me, asking me to surrender.

But surrender is excruciatingly hard when you have no idea what you’re surrendering to. I suspect this is the way it is with every call. Remember Joseph? He was given a vague, symbolic dream, one that promised purpose and divine guidance with little by way of an action plan.

And what about Abraham? God told him, “Go to the land I will show you.”

Um…okay. Where is this land, Lord?

Silence.

How long will it take me to get there?

Silence.

What about Moses, Esther, or Ruth? I could go on, but the Bible is full of people who had to answer God’s call before they fully understood what that would entail.

I imagine that’s God’s mercy, for if He showed us now all that lay ahead, we’d probably be overwhelmed to the point of paralysis. Either that or we’d become prideful, losing sight of the One who brings our God-given dreams to fruition.

Over the next five years, God pushed me, pulled me, stretched me, and squeezed me. We moved. Numerous times. My husband was sued unjustly. Five times. I lost a dear friend to brain cancer, acquired two chronic illnesses, experienced betrayals and rejection, and at times, was ready to give it all up. On more than one occasion, I argued with God over the call, asking Him to take it back.

But He wouldn’t. Rather, He reminded me of the cost—of my salvation, of my life—asking me to give it back to Him. For “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of what is planted in the soil dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.”

In essence, through trials, frustrations, and set-backs, God brought me to a place of surrender.

And that, my friends, is when the dream began to unfold.


And in everything, find and maintain your surrender. Because that’s how you best connect to your Powerhouse, the Dream-giver and the lifter of your head.  

A bookstore/library-hopping/coffee drinking day
Jennifer Slattery and her writer friends:
Susan Aken and Kelly Klepfer

Jennifer Slatterywrites soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. 
Jennifer loves helping aspiring authors grow in their craft, and has editing slots open beginning in November. Find out more here



You can connect with Jennifer on: 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Beyond I Do:
Released Sept. 2014

Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancĂ©. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

Read a free, 36-page excerpt click here
Beyond I Do, is currently available in print and e-book format for under $10! You can find it here:  Click Here



To enter the contest for  
Jennifer Slattery's book: "Beyond I Do"
leave a comment (and email address)
AND become a follower of this site, 
OR sign up to receive posts by email
if you aren't already.


Sorry - US only


Winner announced on my facebook page.


Thank you, Jennifer, for Joining us This Weekend!

Don't forget to comment!



Reader, Jennifer leaves these last words with us: Where are you? Are you in a place of refining? If so, rejoice! For God has great plans for you, my friend. Have you just begun to sense the call? If so, set your face like flint, for a time of training is coming! Are you standing on the other side of a trial, looking back on all God has done? If so, shout His praises, thanking Him for every heartache and tear.

If you don't have an answer, that's okay, just say howdy-do in the comment section. I love chatting with you.

Thanks so much for joining our chat today.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Review- A Home at Trail's End by Melody Carlson


Sometimes I like to snuggle with a down-home cozy read, don't you?

I found the perfect book for this occasion. And to sweeten the pie, the story is set in autumn.

Melody Carlson's book, A Home at Trail's End, is a delightful story in the same fashion as Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables. The only difference is the story focuses on the adults instead of the children.

Set in the frontier days, Elizabeth and her children arrive near the Pacific coast after a long journey on the Oregon Trail. She is anxious to plan her wedding to the handsome Eli Kincaid, and thankfully, he chose to hang up his wagon trail scouting hat to settle down in the same Oregon territory.

Elizabeth had brought a hired hand, a freed slave, to help her on the journey, but laws in the new community prevented blacks from becoming new residents. More than anything she wants to help him start his own life nearby by first building a cottage. She needs to be cautious though. If anyone sees him there, both of them could be in serious trouble.

Deciding what to do to protect him becomes difficult when she also choses to help hide a single Indian woman and her child. Rumors circulated in the community abut the violence committed against any Indian seen and those helping them. While her heart fears for her children's safety, Elizabeth felt a strong urge to help the needy. 

No one ever said life in the new frontier would be easy. Elizabeth had her fair share of difficulties, some from her own doing. She hopes Eli is the one God has sent to help establish her family in a rugged new land.


Melody Carlson has woven a delightful story, one that can be shared with the family as a nice read. Consider checking out this story.

Do you like cozy reads?
What cozy book have you read?


Monday, October 6, 2014

The Parisian Way of Communicating




Have you ever gone on that vacation...the one that pops in your head when you hear a song, see someone do something, smell a certain scent? Yeah. Me too. I have several vacations that are definitely on the memorable list.

Photo by Mary Vee

Today's memory is brought to you by the vacation sponsor: Paris.

I just can't help revisiting my trip to Paris and bursting with interesting tid bits to share with you.

Today I want to talk about cell phones. 

Here in America, we have a fetish for our cell phones. Didn't you see someone using theirs this morning? Yep, me too. Hubby wanted to cut the lawn. Plump gray and blue clouds were swirling in the sky. Will it rain? He whipped out his cell phone to check the weather report. VoilĂ . No rain. (hmmm we'll see if this is really true.)

Oddly enough, during my visit, I didn't see a single Parisian with a cell phone. It's true! I assume they had them, but they didn't walk about the city with their cell phone held to their ear. 

They didn't walk up to a cashier talking on their phone while cashing out their order. 
They didn't chat/text on the subway. 
They don't have earbuds, listening to their devices.
The children didn't carrying devices and watch/listen to them while standing in the long line to go up the Eiffel tower.


Do you know what they did????

They talked to the person next to them.
They read books. Real paper books, the kind you hold in your hand.
They napped
They stared off into the distance.
They laughed with the person sitting across from them at a cafe.
The parents talked with the children giving them instructions and answering their questions 
The children talked/laughed with the parents.


This, of course, didn't imply they don't have all these wonderful devices. They simply didn't have them out as a norm.

I'm not pointing a finger. If I did, four would be pointing back at me. LOL. 

I just was so amazed at how the Parisians took the time to talk with each other, face to face.


Sure, I can think of about one hundred Bible/God applications to this one. But I am going to let you this time. 

How can today's post relate to a relationship with God?

If you are stuck, no problem. I haven't had my morning coffee yet either. Simply comment a howdy-do. I love to chat with you.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Fabulous Friday Feature-Nancy Mehl




Today I welcome author: 
Nancy Mehl


To win a copy
of 
Gathering Shadows

Scroll to the end of the post 
to see how to get your copy.





I met Nancy at the conference this year. I mean the in-person, Nancy. I've enjoyed her posts on FB and getting to know the online Nancy, but the live, breathing, dressed up in her gala-gorgeous-blue-dress Nancy was so sweet and wonderful to meet!  I asked her to share with us how God has led her on her writing journey. This is what she said:


Doing It for the One

Usually writers start out with a clear direction. We know what we want to write, and we know what kind of readers we want to reach. Unfortunately, once we sell a book, things can change. Suddenly we’re faced with editors who have their own ideas and reviewers whose words can sometimes shake our confidence. Many authors wind up confused, no longer knowing why they’re writing or who they’re writing for.

My advice is two-fold. First of all, put each book in God’s hands and dedicate it to Him. I’ve found that if you do this, and mean it, you’ll get ideas and inspiration that can only come from Him.

Secondly, make your audience small. I mean, really small. Reduce it down to one person.

I once had a friend who ran a mission for homeless men. So many of his clients seemed doomed to failure, and there didn’t appear to be many success stories that resulted from his endeavors. One day, during a conversation, I asked him, “Out of one hundred men, how many have you actually helped? How many lives have actually changed for the better?”

He thought seriously for a moment. Then he answered, “Maybe one.”

I was flabbergasted. “How do you do this every day? What keeps you from giving up?”

He smiled and said, “I do it for the one.”

Writing is a gift. For many Christian writers, it becomes something more. It becomes a ministry. But how do we effectively reach out through our books and touch people for Him? We know that if we try to stuff our stories with too many spiritual insights, we can actually end up diluting the message we want to convey. Readers will call our work “too preachy.”

After remembering my friend’s inspirational statement, I made a change. Now, I “do it for the one.” In other words, before I start a novel, I ask God to show me the person he wants to reach. Is it someone who didn’t have a father growing up and has a hard time trusting Father God? Or is it someone being abused, who needs to know there is a way out? Who is the person God wants to touch through this book? Doing this helps me to keep my focus and makes my main theme much clearer.


For me, “doing it for the one,” is the way I can use my writing to really “do it for the One.”



Aiden
Nancy Mehl lives in Festus, Missouri, with her husband, Norman, and her very active puggle, Watson. Her favorite past-time is babysitting her 21 month old grandson, Aidan. She’s authored twenty books and just finished a new series for Bethany House Publishing. The first book in her Finding Sanctuary series, “Gathering Shadows” was released on May 6th.  The second book, “Deadly Echoes” will come out in February of 2015.


All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”


You can connect with her on: 
Facebook: Nancy Mehl
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wynter Evans is a promising young reporter for a television station in St. Louis, but even a bright future doesn't take away her pain over the disappearance of her brother nine years ago. So when she stumbles across a photograph of a boy with an eerie resemblance to him, she can't pass up the chance to track him down. With research for work as her cover, she sets out with one of the station's photogs for the place where the picture was taken: the town of Sanctuary.


Almost as soon as she arrives, she meets the town's handsome young mayor, Rueben King, and together they begin to uncover long held secrets that could tear the small town apart and change everything Wynter thought she knew about her life. As the truth of her family's past hides in the shadows, it's clear someone will stop at nothing to keep the answers she's searching for hidden forever--even if the cost is Wynter's very life.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Other books by Nancy Mehl:

New Release - This coming January, 2015!

After years of upheaval, Sarah Miller's life is finally settled with all echoes of the past stilled and silent at last. She spends her time teaching the children of Sanctuary, a town she is happy to call home. 

When the sister Sarah hasn't seen in years reappears, it stirs up hard memories of the past and their parents' murder. Even so, Sarah's joy at being reunited with Hannah and meeting the niece she didn't know she had is too soon interrupted when Deputy Sheriff Paul Gleason informs Sarah her sister has been killed. 

As Sarah learns more about Hannah's death, the circumstances seem eerily similar to her parents' death. She enlists Paul's help in digging deeper into these murders the police are dismissing as burglaries gone wrong. Paul's concern encourages Sarah's growing feelings for him, but as their investigation peels back the layers of lies almost twenty years old, they get close to uncovering the truth one man will do anything to hide--even if he must do away with the last remaining members of the Miller family.
To enter the contest for  
Nancy Mehl's book: "Gathering Shadows"
leave a comment (and email address)
AND become a follower of this site, 
OR sign up to receive posts by email
if you aren't already.


Sorry - US only


Winner announced on my facebook page.


Thank you, Nancy, for Joining us This Weekend!

Don't forget to comment!



Reader, Wow! Nancy left us with such good words. I think often we do our job for the many. Has this helped you today? I hope so.

If you don't have an answer, that's okay, just say howdy-do in the comment section. I love chatting with you.

Thanks so much for joining our chat today.