Friday, August 31, 2012

Fabulous Friday Feature: Angie Dicken


Today I welcome a kindred spirit, an encourager, 
a fun-loving mom for her active children, and future authoress.  

Enter to win a copy of Terri Blackstock's new book, Covenant Child

I met Angie when she joined the Writers Alley group. When I asked her to share the "real" her with you, she said:



God Sent Me on an Encouraging Writing Journey


Two years ago, I was preparing for my first writer's conference, just as I am preparing for my third conference today. It has been quite a journey for me as a writer. And I thought I'd share what I've learned along the way.

I walked away from my first conference with an agent's request for some chapters. It gave me hope that my dream of getting published was tunneling ahead and God's mighty hand was blessing me quickly. Certainly I had discovered my calling and found the door to success.

And then came rejection. As quick as the blessing pushed me forward, the rejection pulled me back.
Whoa. My writing needed some work, and the agent was kind enough to point out specifics. Yeah, It hurt.

“What was the point of that blessing, God?”

Fast forward to the next spring, and a new novel which I submitted to contests, and semi-finaled in the ACFW Genesis contest, and finaled in the RWA/FHL Touched by Love contest. Yes! 

That little blessing months before may have ended in rejection, but I received some advice, some experience and finally arrived in the writing world...for sure this time, right?
I took my newest novel to the next conference, sure that blessings would abound. I had discovered “how” to write, hadn't I? Spurred on by the first agent's rejection, and learning techniques and tricks of the trade over the year, I had a polished almost-award-winning novel in hand.
And I got a request, and then two, and then three. And I left that conference with blessing upon blessing knowing this was surely it.

Over that next year, I received a few more requests and a few more rejections. I received some pretty harsh critiques, and I very nearly threw in the towel.

“Alright, God, what is it with these empty blessings?”

With each request, I was sure God guided and opened a door for me. And when rejection followed, I doubted that God was behind any of this at all, and it was just a luck of the draw, a fun hobby that I had put too much time and effort into.

I was knocked to the floor with humility and discouragement. Calling? What calling? Just foolish dream chasing. But, my “angels” picked me up and righted my heart toward reality. Those angels are my writing besties...the Alley Cats including my crit partner, Ashley. With their words of wisdom, I began to understand two things that prepared me not just for this writing journey, but for life in general:

            Blessings are just stepping stones to something grander, AND, God's timing is perfect.

It was easy for me to focus on the rejections and doubt I was truly being led by God. Yet, with prayer and camping in God's word, I have come to understand that those blessings of requests were not erased by rejection, but the rejections were blessings also.

In James 1:1-4  it says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

All along, I have been hopping from stepping stone to stepping stone, refining my perseverance. Sometimes I have failed in this test of faith, sometimes I have focused too much on the trial and not God, but in the end, I have submitted to Him who has my best interest in mind.

What a waste of a calling if I published the novel I intended to be my debut. That was not God's plan. And now that I look back on my writing from that first conference, heat crawls up my neck and my face turns a deep shade of red. How could I have thought my writing was ready?

The next conference is just around the corner, and I am equipping myself with a few of my favorite things: My one sheet (one of my favorites because I love graphics!), my pitch (the actress in me needs lines!), and the most important thing—a shimmering pool amidst my stepping stones of perseverance—a verse:
            “...the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7.

His peace is the best blessing I have received so far. It gives me the strength and courage to follow, even in the trials. This next conference may give me blessings of requests or blessings  of rejections, but the greatest blessing of all, is knowing that He has me right where He wants me, and all I have to do is take the next step.

Thank you Angie for sharing your journey. What encouraging words.

What encouragements has God given through your writing journey. 
No encouragement is too small or too big!!

To enter to win a copy of Terri Blackstock's Covenant Child leave a comment and sign up to become a follower. Please leave your email address. USA residents only.

Winner will be announced on Monday's post.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Silly Rules

By Mary Vee


Photo taken by Mary Vee
I grew up in a home with rules. Most of us did. Some rules seemed silly to me at the time, and still do. Here are a few:

1. Fold the newspaper and put in on the corner of the davenport when finished (for you Internet readers, a newspaper is several large sheets of thin-rectangular paper containing articles and advertisements....a davenport is what my mom called a sofa).

2. Iron Dad's hankies crisp with no wrinkles. (a hankie is a cloth, reusable-if-washed tissue).

3. Change the car radio station back to Dad's favorite before going in the house. 

4. All practical jokes are compliments (at least they thought of us) 

5. Shout "Whoa to he/she who opens it next" when finally getting the freezer to close after mom went shopping.

and there were many more.

Imagine my surprise when I saw the above sign at a river park this last week.

I obediently walked on the grass toward the river, climbed a tower on the bank, sat at a picnic table on the top level, and wrote three chapters of my novel. 

I don't think I've had such whimsical fun in a while.

This sign reminds me of the Bible story I retold on my ministry blog, God Loves Kids. King David wanted to show praise to God by building a temple for HIm. Before carrying out his plan, he asked God for permission. 

In God's loving way, He told David no, but his son, Solomon would be allowed to build the temple.

I think David might have been surprised. 

He lived in a magnificent home built of cedar. The Ark of God sat in a tent. David felt God deserved a better dwelling for the Ark than what he had.

Rather than getting angry or pouting about the rule, David walked to a place where he could spend time alone with God. He poured out praises and thanksgiving to the Almighty for all the blessings He gave. David saw nothing but good in God's plan, even though it was not what he originally wanted.

Rules can be annoying. Rules can be good. But God's rules are for our best. 

What funny rule have you seen or have been asked to keep?

There will be another book give away this Friday. Come enter to win Terri Blackstock's Covenant Child

Monday, August 27, 2012

Rural Freedoms

By Mary Vee


Heather M is the winner of the book giveaway from last Friday!
Stop by this Friday for another book give away.


God works through many community settings to help us through our situations. Seems like the one we grow up in tends to be our favorite.

Paul and his wife from Jackson, Mississippi celebrated an anniversary. They traveled to the farming community in Ohio where he grew up and had a special celebration with their family. 

He told me how he loved the secure and free lifestyle he had while growing up in the small Ohio community. "We never locked our doors, never had to worry about doing it. Folk who live there today do the same. It's a close knit community where people can trust each other."

I asked him about Jackson. "Oh, Jackson is a different kind of town. It has all the big city features, shopping and all. The problem is, parents have to watch their children all the time. Crime can get out of hand. We live there because my wife likes it."

I see. 

My husband and I also lived in a close-knit community on an island in Lake Huron, Michigan waters. The six-mile wide hunk of dolomite had a tiny touristy grocery store, an elementary school, a bank branch, lots of woods, and one blinking light. Neighbors gathered together and gave there bulk grocery order and money to one of the residents owning a van. That person took the ferry to the mainland, drove up to the "soo" "Sault Ste. Marie for groceries, and hauled the order back.

Most other items were bought online through the catalog.

Island kids roamed free, stopping at whoever's house they happened by. They climbed tall trees, rode their bikes, skated at the village rink, and knew to be home by suppertime. If your child caused a problem somewhere, you'd hear about it. Of course, you'd pass the message along to your child as was appropriate.

No one had a house address. The UPS guy knew where everyone lived, and if he saw you on the ferry he handed you your package right there. 

Bears invited themselves into homes and raided kitchens. They never cleaned up after themselves and tended to break the back door. We learned to keep two garbage lids close by to scare the beasts away.

Everyone left their keys in the car. If you happened to park in someone's way they could move your car to the side. Always expect to find your car in a different spot.

Life moves at a slow pace in rural areas. The islanders knew each other, it might seem like a fish bowl to outsiders, but no one struggled, everyone helped. Life's survival lessons could be learned in a safe place.

The two years we lived on the island let me see a God style of community: slowed, friendly, helpful, working hard to survive, ready to cover someone's back, a whole lot of nature, laughter, and fun.

Don't get me wrong, God also loves to work with the city community life. Share with us how your community demonstrates our God.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fabulous Friday Feature: Cindy Wilson

Today I welcome my good friend, 
a Rocky Mountain kindred spirit, 
and future authoress, Cindy Wilson


Book give away today, see details below.

I met Cindy while working with her at The Writers Alley. This year she is an ACFW Genesis finalist! This dear friend is also a willing-to-take-your-call-and-help persona. She is a godly woman who has written fourteen manuscripts and who knows, with doing so well with the contest, maybe published soon. I so excited for her journey!

I asked her to tell us about her writing journey.

It Was Meant to Be


If you would have asked me ten years ago to write a post about myself or my writing journey, it would not have included the words “God” or “right path” or “blessing” or “Christ-like.” I was a mom in my early twenties who loved to write and tried to live a moral life without the necessary compass. God.

I hadn’t been raised in the church, my parents didn’t go to church, and we didn’t talk about the Bible or God or even a God. And yet I loved to write and knew that something had placed that passion inside of me.

When I became a Christian at the age of twenty-five, I’d already written four novels, gotten an agent and thought I was well on my way to wowing the world with my writing skills. And it all changed in the blink of an eye.

I felt like I had to start over again. I’d never even read a Christian novel before, let alone written one. I don’t think God cared. He ignited that passion full-force this time, didn’t let  me quit, and helped me write another ten novels. Ones that moved me to tears. Ones I felt were meant to be.

Somehow it was only recently that it really dawned on me God had been shaping my writing journey before I even knew Him. Because when things got hard, He’d get me through. With an encouraging note from an agent. With the chance at a contract. With the support from a writer friend.

But those times were tough. Even recently I stumbled and thought about quitting writing for good. Or going back to secular fiction. In fact, I’d even taken serious steps to doing so. But again, God was faithful. When I’d almost given up on writing Christian fiction and believing this was where I was meant to be, God gave me a reminder. I finaled in the Genesis contest.

I don’t know where God will take me from here, but I have no doubt He’s been part of this writing journey and part of my life since the moment I was born. And it gives me pleasure to praise Him for His faithfulness because whether it’s writing or relationships or some other passion in your life, He will get you through. Even better, He’ll go through it with you and not let you down.

Now instead of just being a mom, I’m a daughter of Christ (who gets to be a mom, too). And instead of saying I’m a writer, I get to say I’m a writer of Christian fiction. And it was meant to be.


Cindy lives at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and loves using small Colorado towns as inspiration for settings in her contemporary romances. She balances writing with raising three small girls, and working as a stay-at-home mom. She draws from her own marriage, a relationship that began when her and her husband were teenagers, to write about real relationships centered around humor, love, and God.

Cindy is a member of ACFW, and enjoys attending local meetings. She is also a 2012 Genesis finalist as well as an 2011 RWA Gotcha finalist.

www.cindywilson.com

What has God done in your life 
to encourage you to use your talents for Him?

Leave a comment and become a follower, if not already, to be entered into this weekend's book give away. 

Beth Vogt's book, Wish You Were Here

Please leave your email address so I can contact you if you are the winner. 

Winner will be announced on Monday's post.

Contest is for Continental U.S. residents only. 

If you aren't selected to win, you can still click on the book to order.

Thank you for becoming a follower and commenting!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Distance No Longer Separates

I like to meet new friends and kindle previous friendships. But, living in remote areas or moving to new places can limit opportunities.

Once upon a time the only way to meet a new best friend was face to face. Moving to new neighborhoods, attending community functions, basically getting out of the house gave opportunity to kindle a friendship.

Today, new best friends can be made on the Internet. And yes, the friendship can be kindred and like-minded, and helpful.

Stepping into another person's world doesn't have to mean literally putting your foot on the same ground anymore.

Last week I skyped with my friend Casey, she in Oregon, I in Montana. We met three years ago on a writers loop and two years later met face to face in St. Louis at a conference. 

The conversation on skype allowed us to have all the perks of a face to face conversation. We sat "across from each other" using our laptop cameras and benefited from seeing body language to clarify communication. We saw the wall behind the other, the chair the other sat in, when one sipped tea, and the other wiggled to get comfy on her chair. 

We talked for two hours. Casey, talked about housesitting and changes in her job. I shared about a possible new home. The conversation developed to discussions about mutual friends, funny stories, and writing goals. 

Then the conversation went deeper.

We talked about concerns and problems in our writing, discussed ways to solve the problem, confirmed our different ways to address the issue to suit the individual needs, and encouraged each other.

We watched each other laugh, show concern, and gave each other encouragement as if we truly sat three feet from each other.

God communicates with us in a close way as well. We see His influence in lives, witness his power in nature, read His Word, meditate to know His Will and hear His voice. 

I am really thankful for skype. My family continues to have family devotions with members in different states every night. But I am even more thankful for God's clear and present communication. 

How do you stay in close communication?

photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net








Monday, August 20, 2012

A Gift From Lithuania

By Mary Vee


Lithuania is a country west of Russia and sets on the Baltic Sea. Many residents live in crowded apartments with cracked wallpaper and few amenities. 

A couple, she a PhD chemist, he a PhD biologist live in a four-room apartment with their two children and the grandmother. They ride the trolly to work and hope the electrical black out time doesn't come while dinner is made.

They take their meager earnings, stand in line at the market, and hope there is food on the shelf when their turn comes to buy.

One day a letter arrives from the United States announcing a visit from his brother and ten family members. Money would be sent ahead for food, the family would stay in a hotel, and all expenses for sight seeing would be covered. 

Excited to see his brother after more than twenty years, the man writes back welcoming his guests but refuses the financial help for food. He and his wife pull together every penny from savings and stand long hours in line at the market for several days to buy enough food.

When his brother and his family arrive they squeeze around a table along with other invited Lithuanian relatives for the special meal. In typical fashion, the Lithuanians speak at the same time, sharing stories for hours. Non Lithuanian family members from American watch and laugh.

The man's smile rose and fell with the laughter and serious conversation. He never left the room to take care of business. Didn't have a television to watch. He didn't check facebook or anything else on the Internet during the entire visit.

He and his wife had sacrificed much to welcome his brother and would have to live without much for many days to come. A gift he would gladly give again.

Receiving a gift of great value sticks in the memory forever. I especially like when God sparks the memory for me to relive. When He helps me remember the great gifts of others, I also remember the greater gift He gave me.

 And maybe when I give a gift of great value, maybe someone else will remember what Jesus did for them as well.

Have you received a really special gift? 



Friday, August 17, 2012

Fabulous Friday Feature: Julia Reffner

Today I welcome my kindred friend: Julia Reffner
Future authoress

Julia has helped me with crits, prayed for my needs, lifted my spirits, calmed my storm, listened when I rejoiced, encouraged my writing and has welcomed me to reciprocate.

Julia is a fellow Alley Cat. We are co-writers with eight other fabulous ladies for The Writers Alley, a blog for writers.

Julia shares with us who she is:


I Want to Be Conformed to Christ's Image

            When Mary asked me to write a post about who I am, I didn't quite know where to begin. One thing popped out in my mind: I want to be conformed to Christ’s image. I’m certainly not there. I sin, I come to my knees and beg for His grace, He pours out His love and bids me stand up.
            All my journeys together match up to this one overriding goal: to hear well done good and faithful servant. Knowing that I don’t deserve anything, but so grateful for His mercy moment-by-moment helping me through my days.
            Sometimes these are tiring days. All of you know about that. Busyness takes over, but He calls me sit at his feet, like Mary, pouring my best out for Him. My best that is worth nothing, my efforts that are worth nothing. But Jesus delights in my songs, off-key, often with wrong words thrown in. The visceral heart cries when I’m desperate and can do nothing more than cry out a plea.
            My writing, too, desperately broken. I bleed on the page, yet sometimes I cauterize the wounds with a styptic pencil preferring the temporary sting to the shame of sharing my true self on the page. As the blood flows freely, He gently bandages my wounds yet asks me to show the scars to others so they can find healing. I flinch at the sight. Want to turn away at the thought of my wretched self.
            Homeschooling, too, a constant breaking. Of my time as I watch another writer friend pile away pages per day after placing her girls on the yellow school bus. Patience, as I pray for grace to finish another math lesson, a constant reminder of my lack. Strength and energy lacking, thoughts of self-doubt in abundance.
            Coming to you with broken pieces, begging for you to put me back together.
I am…

a desperate sinner in need of Christ’s grace every moment
being sanctified, and conformed into His image
a wife who desperately desires to be a life-giving helper
learner at the hands of my beloved 4 and 7 year olds
a fumbling writer desperate to minister to others
a messy housekeeper
a lover of food who is learning to care for her temple
an intercessor as led by the Spirit of God

More than anything else, if one word could define my life I think I would want it to be worshipper. Worshipper of the living God. To have my life be about who He is and not who I am. Let my writing, my prayer life, my family relationships all be defined by this single word. HE IS WORTHY TO BE PRAISED!

Thank you Julia for visiting with us today. I find messy housekeepers tend to have time to play like in your photo. :)  

Julia used worshipper as a single word she'd like to define her life. I would like the word encourager to define my life. 

What word would you like to define yours?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

East Meets West-Like City and Country Mouse

By Mary Vee


A woman who lived in Seattle married a man from the Midwest. The happy couple moved to their first house in his home state. 

The woman had been accustomed to rainstorms where she grew up. To quote a movie line "Seattle. It rains nine months of the year there!" She loved the vibrant green grasses, varied colored flowers, and towering trees coating the landscape.

She never tired of the floral scent or the misty air.

After researching which plants survived best in the unfamiliar Midwest soil, she planted a garden around her new front porch. Her husband noticed the efforts when the first blooms opened. "It smells lovely, just like you, honey."


The couple went out for a date that night. As they drove, a thunderstorm rose from the horizon. Humidity increased, leaving a cool mist. She opened her car window and took a deep breath. It smelled like home.

A white light flashed across the sky. Sound waves echoed "Crack."

Her body flinched and she gasped. "What was that?"

"Lightning." He laughed. "Just lightning."

Wrong words. Unfortunately he didn't know she had never seen or heard lightning in Seattle. Sure maybe in a movie or described in a book, but never in person. 

She pressed her hand on her chest. "The light was so bright white, the sound so loud," her breath raced in and out of her lungs, "I thought the Lord, Himself was coming." 

Once he realized her fear, he reached his arm around her shoulders, drew her close to his body, and hugged her. "I'm sorry."

I recently heard the story and wondered how often we miss a person's true feelings. I'm glad he said the right words in the end:)

For me, a total dark room can take my breath away. If someone walked with me, the jitters have to work harder to make an appearance. God is always willing to be that Someone.

How about you? 
What scares you?
What gives you a secure feeling when scared?

photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and http://finelivingblog.seattledreamhomes.com


Monday, August 13, 2012

Where Did I Hide My Car This Time?

By Mary Vee

This last month, I should have bought stock in tires. Burned enough rubber to keep any tire factory in business. Most of the miles in a rental car.

Each rental car white.

Why?

I haven't a clue.

But when walking through the hotel lobby door to the parking lot, I realized everyone in the hotel had rented or purchased a similar white car. Okay, maybe not everyone, but it seemed like it. You know that lost feeling when walking out of a store, "Where did I park this time?" Uh huh.

Solution?

Sandra Bullock's character, Lucy used this in While You Were Sleeping to prove she knew Peter's car. Katherine Heigl's character Stephanie Plum used this in One For the Money to find Morelli's car.

Yes, the FOB.

In a row of six white similar cars, mine blinked yellow lights as if it were a long lost friend begging me to save it from the cloned masses. Luke Skywalker lifting off a storm trouper helmet revealing his true identity to the princess in episode four of the Star Wars saga.

How did car owners identify their vehicle when they first came off the assembly line? Each product looked the same! Did they have to remember where they parked? And what if their vehicle was the first one in the row but another car came along and parked on the left side? No rearview mirrors to hang an identifier.

I am thankful for the FOB.

And then I wondered, if a group of people stood together, who could tell which was a child of God? Sometimes I fail to show others I belong to Him.  Did I blend in, or did I stand apart? What spiritual FOB could reveal my faith? God reminded me.  Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

To make sure my spiritual FOB is working, I need to walk with God daily and practice the fruit of the Spirit moment by momet. I'm not perfect. Have failed many times. Diving back in the Word of God recharges my spiritual FOB batteries enabling me to be seen clearly as a child of God.

Do you have any funny FOB stories?

photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Fabulous Friday Feature: Casey Herringshaw



Today I welcome a kindred spirit, an inspiration, a sparky personality, and future authoress.  

I met Casey through ACFW and found her to be a rich source of Christlike friendship. When I asked Casey to share the "real" her with you, she said:

Defining You



I’m a writer. Words make up my world into a brighter, cheerier place (though sometimes when my characters misbehave, it can become a darker, more dangerous existence. ;-)




I have a list of words that describe me. Words that make up who I am to my friends, my family and to myself.

Nerdy knitter.
Avid reader.
General all-around farm girl.
Sister.
Daughter.
Aspiring author.
Contest finalist.
Friend.
Jewelry designer.
Nurses’ Aide.

I wear a lot of hats. I use a lot of words. But you know the most important ones to me? The words that represent those closest in my lives. Daughter. Sister. Child of the King.

Sure, being an aspiring author is great. Donning the scrubs is a challenge. And making the jewelry is just plain fun, but they don’t represent me.

Some people would say it’s my chair-dancing personality sneaking out and I’m just a fun-lovin’ gal. (That’s what my ACFW friends would say.)

My Alley Cats would just call me cheeky and sassy (when they are having a friendly, be-nice-to-Casey) day.

My family would tell you I’m helpful and a great daughter (might as well aim for the best, right??) but can be a might disagreeable at times.

But what I do I really want to be labeled for? What words do I want people to think of when they see me?

Christ-like.
Loving.
Giving.

Those are the words I want remembered of me and spoken of when my name is said. I want my heart to be so synonymous with Christ’s that nothing can separate one from the other.

If you had three words you had to pick, which ones would you choose and hope people would say of you? I hope you’ll share in the comments, I’d love to get to know you!

Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She lives in rural Eastern Oregon in a town more densely populated with cows than people. Taking the words and stories God has placed on her heart and putting them on paper is one of her highest passions in life. Casey is a member of ACFW. You can connect with her through her personal blog,Writing for Christ and her writing related group blog,The Writer's Alley 



Some day you will hold one of Casey Herringshaw's books in your hand. You'll stay up late trying to finish a chapter then tell all your friends the next day. For now, please share a word of encouragement for Casey.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Oxymoron

By Mary Vee



The city of Bluffton, Ohio is close to I 75. On a hot summer day, travelers take the second exit, when traveling south, and stop at the Dari Freeze. 

The tiny parking lot is on the south side of the building. A sign on the window says, "Place orders on the other side of the building."




No problem. Walk around the front, past the picnic tables full of customers enjoying an icy treat and the scale near the first window, to the north side of the building. A large menu complete with items like all you can eat fish fry on Friday nights fills the wall








If you skimmed read over the word scale, let me repeat it. Yes. There is a full-sized, medical scale in the front of the building.

I had to ask the employees the story. He said the scale was put there seven years ago and is balanced regularly.


Seriously?

Yes! He said many customers will check their weight, shrug then place their order.

He didn't know why. 

But the scales have become an attraction for the business.

Go figure.

Have you seen or heard of any thing odd at a business? Share yours.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Kind Lady and the Gentleman

By Mary Vee

A woman boarded a plane and walked to the last row for her seat assignment. She pushed her roller bag into the overhang storage and sat in her seat.

Along came a family. The father asked. "Would you mind. I'm so sorry to ask. Our family is taking a special trip and, well, we, um hoped to travel together. The desk agent said the flight was full and therefore she couldn't change our seats."

Before he said another word she stood. "Where is the seat you need to trade?"

A warm smile spread across his face. "10B. It's the exit aisle."

He helped her pull down her roller bag and thanked her.

The woman felt like a fish swimming up stream moving to the front of the plane during boarding. She stopped in row 11 and spoke with the people sitting in row 10. "I think I'm in 10b?"

The man sitting in her seat said, "Would you mind. I'm so sorry to ask, I would like to sit by my wife. We originally had seats assigned next to each other, but the computer changed it a few minutes ago. Would you mind trading seats?"

She gave a small eye roll and smiled. "Sure. Where is the seat you need to trade?"

He held the paper with the new seat assignment out toward her. "First class, 1D."

The woman was speechless.

Passengers listening in nearby rows cheered for the man.

God chose the kind lady to receive a gift from a gentleman.


This is a true story that happen only last week, I witnessed this exchange.

photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.com

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sherrinda Ketchersid and Jacob's Ladder

Fabulous Feature Friday
Sherrinda Ketchersid

Come meet my friend, Sherrinda Ketchersid. She recently had a Jacob's ladder experience. 


At different times in our lives we all face the ladder. Her words will inspire you:


I’ve been calling myself a writer for about six years. It has been the most wonderful, frustrating, rewarding, exasperating thing I have ever done! I’ve loved meeting other writers online and have been planning to go to the big ACFW Conference this fall with great anticipation. It’s what I love!

Not long ago, God got a hold of me and we wrestled for quite awhile. You know when God is talking to you, even though sometimes you don’t want to hear Him. You have a disquiet feeling in your heart. You aren’t at peace. You run into road blocks at every turn. You know good and well He is trying to get your attention, but you look the other way.

God was convicting me of not being a better helper to my husband, who pastors a small church. I’ve been an active member, but my heart hasn’t been in it. I have been consumed with writing and blogging, letting it take over, letting it become an idol of sorts.

Here’s the thing. When I married my husband, I knew that his calling would become my calling. Called by God. Called to serve. And I have ignored my calling. My husband needs me. He needs to know I am completely behind him, that I am interested in his work, that I “get him”. No one can “get him” like I can – and he needs to know I do!

So three weeks ago I was battling God, because I felt like He was asking me to give up my writing. Not forever, but for a season. I didn’t want to, so I asked God to give me a sign. In my prayer time before church, I asked God to make it clear I was supposed to give up my writing.

Well, God was so faithful. In the sermon, my husband (who had no idea I was wrestling with this) says this while talking about the prodigal son in the pig pen: Living in the pig pen is not just the place where sinners end up. Sometimes it’s us in the pig pen. It’s those of us who put other things before God. Are you putting things before God? Is God telling you to give up anything? Is He speaking to you?

Tears flowed from my eyes when I heard those words. My God answered my prayer in such a clear and profound way. He cared enough to speak to me and guide my way. What an awesome God!
And that’s not all He did!

Since I belong to The Writer’s Alley, a blog written by 10 aspiring authors, I thought I should back out. I wasn’t going to be writing for publication! But they asked me to stay and write more spiritual/devotional type posts. It could be writing or reading related…or not. I wasn’t sure if I should, so I said I would pray about it. That night, my husband came home from work and said he thought I shouldn’t quit blogging. He thought I should write more spiritual/devotion type posts! Isn’t that amazing? I love it when God speaks in ways that are unmistakable!

You know, it isn’t easy to give up something that is so important to you. It is difficult. It hurts! But I do know this, God has a peace that passes understanding that will fill you and He will be your very great reward. He will compensate for the loss. He will make a way for you.

So you might be wondering how I am spending my time since I’m not writing. Well, I am digging into the gospels, and am studying the life of Jesus. I want to be Jesus in this world. His hands. His feet. His heart. I want to encourage those around me. I want to build up God’s kingdom here on earth. I want to be a part of the mission of Christ and all that entails!

p.s. And I’m STILL getting to be an Alley Cat at The Writer’s Alley with Mary Vee!!!! What more could a gal ask for? Thanks for having me, Mary!

Sherrinda, I am the one who has been blessed by your testimony. Thanks for sharing.
You can read her posts every other Tuesday on the Writers Alley  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Giving Hearts

Many places offer a bed or meal to the needy. Usually located in urban settings these organizations also provide meals, classes, and a listening ear.

I recently visited the Cherry Street Men's Mission in Toledo, Ohio. After hearing the need for bottled water on the news, my sisters and I went shopping, filled the car's trunk and set out for the mission.

Temperatures floated in the three digits that day. Three men stood outside the mission wiping sweat from their heads.

We toted cases of water and family sized bundles of toilet paper into the mission and set them in the entrance. The greeter smiled and called the head administrator who agreed to give us a tour.

Along the way, he showed rooms with beds. The entire facility was dedicated to providing a place to sleep for anyone who needed a bed. The first floor had a large room stuffed with bunk beds. The second floor had rooms in the process of conversion to sleeping quarters. On the third floor, men who took classes and had jobs could share a room with one other person.

The administrator, a thirty-something man, had worked at the mission for his entire career. His compassion for those needing a bed outstood Mt. Everest.

He took us to the room where the needy checked in for the night and said, "Some of our men
choose to sleep here, on the floor. Some are concerned for their safety among the other men and on the streets. They want to be out of the weather and have a camera focused on the area where they sleep. We don't make them come past the check in area. Our goal is to meet the men where they are, and help them the best we can."

He said, "Our greatest need is water and toilet paper, which you brought us today. Thank you. Many donors don't realize men need toilet paper. Those gifts are usually only given to the women shelters."

If you can, consider giving water bottles and toilet paper to your local mission.