Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Jodie Wolfe shares her thoughts on Unbroken...



UnbrokenBy Jodie Wolfe

He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Isaiah 40:29 (NIV)


The drive to survive despite staggering difficulties, starvation and insurmountable odds. Such is the story of LouiZamperini as shared in the movie Unbroken. It tells the tale of this former Olympian who not only survived over a month and a half adrift at sea before being rescued and taken to a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Louis overcame and made it through horrific circumstances.

As I watched the movie with my husband recently, I couldn't help but think about the urge to endure that God has built into each of us. While I have never undergone anything as drastic as Louis Zamperini, God still has brought me through things I didn't think I could handle.

I love the way God promised us to give us strength when we are weary. There are many times when I feel worn out and unable to keep going but I take comfort in knowing God strengthens me when I ask Him to do so.

I may never face anything as challenging but I know I can choose to be unbroken when I put my faith and strength in God. He will give me the power to overcome.

Jodie Wolfe got bitten by the writing bug as a young girl after reading
and watching Little House on the Prairie. She loves writing stories about feisty heroines and strong, godly heroes. The power of story to influence lives and change hearts is what motivates her to weave tales that tell of the Savior’s faithfulness and forgiveness. She writes a column for Home School Enrichment magazine and has received awards in contests. You can find her ponderings on her website - http://www.jodiewolfe.com.



Sunday, June 14, 2015

A devotional from Johnnie Alexander and an excerpt from "Where Treasure Hides"


We're happy to have Johnnie Alexander with us today sharing a devotional and an excerpt from her book, Where Treasure Hides.

Monuments. Memorials. Museums.

I spent two weeks in May visiting New York City and Washington DC, two cities steeped in history and culture. 

We visited several landmarks including the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Empire State Building. Our first evening in the nation’s capital, we walked from our hotel to the Washington Monument and then made the circuit of the surrounding memorials—those erected to honor great men and to remember those who died sacrificed their life in times of war.

On a hot afternoon in New York, I stood at Ground Zero, my fingers tracing the engraved names of strangers who had died on September 11th. A little over a week later, I was at the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial. Venus shone bright in the night sky, a distant white circle, while soft yellow lights shimmered in the shallow pool beneath each of the Memorial’s cantilevered benches.

A display at the Holocaust Museum honors those who are known to have risked their lives to protect others from Hitler’s cruel regime. The names of these courageous individuals are grouped by nationality. Sometimes a picture puts a face to the name.

So much history. So many names.

I ponder this question:

Why we are so compelled to build monuments to the past.

The drive to never forget not just significant events but also significant individuals goes beyond a desire to show honor. It’s not just desire, but a deep and intense need to engrave our history into marble and stone for those who come after us.

Perhaps the earliest fulfillment of this need occurred when the earth’s inhabitants attempted to build the Tower of Babel. God didn’t appreciate their efforts and confused their language.

But in later times, He encouraged the building of memorials such as in this passage from Exodus:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner, saying, “A hand upon the throne of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Exodus 17:14-16; ESV).

Hundreds of years earlier, the patriarch Jacob, of his own volition, erected a memorial at the place where he had dreamed of a ladder reaching to heaven:

So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel” (Genesis 28:18-19a; ESV).

Pondering all this leads to other questions:

What are the memorials of my life? Who or what do they honor?

What do I pray my children and grandchildren never forget?

What will be my legacy?

My words and actions build a monument that’s added to daily. My hope and desire is that it honors God.


An excerpt from where treasure hides...
Where Treasure Hides

Johnnie Alexander
Chapter One

August 1939

The stringed notes of “Rule, Britannia!” grew louder as the crowd quieted, eyes and ears straining in their search for the violin soloist. The patriotic anthem echoed through Waterloo Station’s concourse, and as the second chorus began, sporadic voices sang the lyrics. Travel- weary Brits stood a little straighter, chins lifted, as the violinist completed the impromptu performance, the last note sounding long after the strings were silenced.

Alison Schuyler gripped her leather bag and threaded her way through the crowd toward the source of the music. As the final note faded inside the hushed terminal, she squeezed between a sailor and his girl, murmuring an apology at forc­ing them to part, and stepped onto a bench to see over the crowd. A dark-haired boy, no more than seven or eight, held the violin close to his anemic frame. His jacket, made of a finely woven cloth, hung loosely on his thin shoulders. The matching trousers would have slipped down his hips if not for his hand-tooled leather belt.

Either the boy had lost weight or his parents had purposely provided him clothes to grow into. Alison hoped for the latter, though from the rumors she’d heard, her first assumption was all too likely. She stared at the cardboard square, secured by a thick length of twine, that the boy wore as a cheap necklace. The penciled writing on the square numbered the boy as 127.

Other children crowded near the young musician, each one dressed in their fine traveling clothes, each one labeled with cardboard and twine. Germany’s castaways, transported to England for their own safety while their desperate parents paced the floors at home and vainly wished for an end to these troublesome days.

“Now will you allow him to keep his violin?” A man’s voice, pleasant but firm, broke the spell cast over the station. The children fidgeted and a low murmur rumbled through the crowd. The speaker, dressed in the khaki uniform of a British Army officer, ignored them, his gaze intent on the railroad official overseeing the children.

“He better,” said a woman standing near Alison. “Never heard anything so lovely. And the lad not even one of the king’s subjects. I’d take him home myself—yes, I would—if I’d a bed to spare.”

Alison mentally sketched the tableau before her, pinning the details into her memory. The officer’s hand resting on the boy’s shoulder; the official, a whistle around his neck, restlessly tapping his clipboard with his pencil; the dread and hope in the boy’s eyes as he clutched his prized instrument. The jagged square that tagged his identity.




Purchase Links:  
Where Treasure Hides is currently available as an ebook. The print edition releases August 2015.

Amazon:


Monday, May 25, 2015

Jo Huddleston shares a devotion and has a free E prayer book for everyone!




DEVOTION

I Need to Hold You

by Jo Huddleston

When my grandchildren began to string words into sentences, they sometimes twisted their intended messages. This resulted in scrambled meanings between what they thought and what they actually said.
The most captivating of their confused statements came when they were in need of comfort or simply wanted companionship. They would entreat me with outstretched arms and pleading eyes, saying, “I need to hold you.” I welcomed this opportunity to draw them close, to kiss scraped knees or elbows, to give words of encouragement and love.
My grandchildren meant something other than what they actually said. But they had learned that when they voiced the words, “I need to hold you,” someone would hold them. That was their goal. What they really thought, but could not verbalize, was, “Hold me, please. I need for you to make it better.”
I recognize myself in their behavior. When my daddy died, I was left spiritually puzzled. Instead of dealing with my loss, I locked my sorrow and anger inside, choosing to battle the pain alone. Friends and relatives offered support, but I wouldn’t embrace their attempts to cheer me. Months later I still could not get through a workday or sit through a Sunday morning church service without unwilling tears streaming down my face.
Then I reached out to God. I spilled out my sorrow, together with my pent-up anger, unloading the entire bundle onto God. He opened his loving arms to me and I moved toward him, feeling the balm of his perfect love blanket my grief.
Like my grandchildren, I needed to share my hurts with someone who would give me unconditional love. My grandchildren trusted that I would help erase their troubles.
I can take my burdens to God and tell him, “I need to hold you.” Then, in the same way that I gathered my grandchildren into my arms, God sustains me, giving hope and consolation.
Have you experienced the unconditional love God offers? Read his words in the Bible and talk with him in prayer. Let God help you carry your burdens. “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” –Psalm 55:22, NIV

AUTHOR BIO – Jo Huddleston:
Jo Huddleston is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories. Her debut novels in the Caney Creek Series and her latest book, Wait for Me are sweet Southern historical romances. She is a member of ACFW. Jo lives in the U.S. Southeast with her husband, near their two grown children and four grandchildren. Visit Jo at www.johuddleston.com.

You can find Jo at:


You can purchase Wait for Me at: http://tiny.cc/xndfwx

Book Description for Wait for Me:
 Can Julie, an only child raised with privilege and groomed for high society, and Robby, a coal miner’s son, escape the binds of their socioeconomic backgrounds? Set in a coal mining community in West Virginia in the 1950s, can their love survive their cultural boundaries?

This is a tragically beautiful love story of a simple yet deep love between two soul mates, Robby and Julie. The American South’s rigid caste system and her mother demand that Julie chooses to marry an ambitious young man from a prominent and suitable family. Julie counters her mother’s stringent social rules with deception and secrets in order to keep Robby in her life. Can the couple break the shackles of polite society and spend their lives together? Will Julie’s mother ever accept Robby?

Bonus from Jo:
I have a permaFREE eBook copy of my book, Amen and Good Morning, God: A Book of Morning Prayers always free and available at:
Kindle eBook copy: http://tiny.cc/xjwavx
Other eBook formats: http://tiny.cc/7qwavx

Thursday, May 21, 2015

God is in the "Center of It"

I don't know what's going on in your life this week, but this has been a hard one for me! I can't remember when I've had such a hard week. God is there though in the midst of it all. 

Sometimes, I think we can get so caught up in our own personal suffering that it's hard to see Him, but He's there. Sometimes, our emotions cause us to hurt so deeply that we can't see past what we feel. It's easy to call out to God and even though healing comes, sometimes it takes a while for us to actually feel it. We sometimes have to work it through in our minds. Sometimes, it's a while before we know everything is going to be okay.

I've never seen so many good people suffer. I have friends who are going through battles that touch me deeply. One in particular needs our prayers with a job-related issue. Please call out to God. He knows her name and her needs. A friend of my sister is facing surgery and she has no insurance. She's a wonderful Christian person. Please remember her.

This song by Chris August says it all. God is in the center of it all. No matter what you're going through, He knows. 

In the dark, in the light, in the good, in the hurt, in the places I hide. When I rise, when I fall, you'll be there through it all. In the start, the end, in the center of it...

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Paula Mowery's offers come words of encouragement on infertility...



GOD OF COMFORT

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV

These verses from Second Corinthians have become real to me over the years. As a young wife I wanted children, and when my husband and I decided to try to start our family, I was glad. But, that gladness soon turned to despair and even depression when I learned about my infertility issues.

Every month I didn’t receive a positive pregnancy test, I sank lower into bitterness. My friends and family would announce their happy news of expecting, but I would run to a corner to lash out in angry tears. 

At a low point, I began to realize that no matter the struggle, God loved me and truly was the God of compassion.  The first verse above says that he comforts us in all of our troubles. I often forgot that fact and sank into my pit again.

The biggest lesson for me to grasp was that I am not in control and my timing isn’t God’s timing. Do I ever truly cling to these truths? Probably not, though I should from experience.

Through several painful tests and interventions, I finally did conceive and have a daughter. However, some of the same bitterness returned when I tried to conceive again and failed. At this time I stepped back and asked myself, “Why are you trying to play God again?”

Other women struggling with infertility started coming into my sphere of influence. This is also the same time I discovered the Second Corinthians passage, knowing what God was calling me to do. He had comforted me, now my job was to in turn comfort these other women. Who else could truly understand their plight like another sister who had been there?

About a year ago, God led me to five other women who were ready to share their infertility struggles in hopes of helping other women. I joined them and what came from those stories was a devotional book called A Walk in the Valley. I am so excited to share this resource with women in this infertility dilemma.

I was honest with my co-authors when I said toward the end of our writing and editing that I wished I could have had a resource such as this one when I was going through my infertility struggle. The devotional contains all of our stories – the good, the bad, and the ugly. We share scripture and even questions to ponder and write about at the end of each entry.

If you or someone you love is going through an infertility fight, please check out this resource. Know that we, the authors, are passing on the comfort our Heavenly Father gave to us that it might overflow to you through Christ.

Paula is a pastor’s wife, mom to a college student, author, acquiring editor, and speaker. No matter the hat she wears, she strives to honor God’s plan even if it means going out on a limb and leaving comfort zones. Reviewers have characterized her writing as “thundering with emotion.” Her book, Be The Blessing, won the 2014 Selah Award in the novella category. Paula enjoys reading and reviewing Christian fiction, writing Christian romance and devotionals, and helping other authors realize their dream of publication.  

You can follow Paula at www.facebook.com/pages/Paula-Mowery/175869562589187 . Learn more about Paula at her blog at www.paulamowery.blogspot.com  or enjoy her monthly columns on www.christianonlinemagazine.com.


http://www.amazon.com/Walk-Valley-Christian-encouragement-infertility-ebook/dp/B00SVXNZH8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1429485599&sr=8-2&keywords=walk+in+the+valley
Everyone's journey through infertility is different. Even women who have the same physical problems will have different courses of treatment, different responses, and different emotional ups and downs as they walk this path. But we also have so much in common: the hurt, anger, frustration, pain, sorrow, hope and joy that we have experienced along the way. We are women who have experienced infertility. Some of us have gone on to conceive, others have adopted, and others remain childless. All of us have found peace in the loving arms of our Father God at the end of our journey. We want to share our experiences and thoughts with you. It is our hope and prayer that you'll be encouraged. This devotional workbook starts with how each woman discovered her infertility, then explores the diagnostic testing pursued, how they processed the official diagnosis, what decisions had to be explored regarding treatment, their experiences during infertility treatment (including pregnancy, miscarriage, and childbirth), and finishes with their experiences in remaining childless, adoption, foster care, child sponsorship, and the emotional healing regardless of the outcome of their infertility journey. Each devotional has a Scripture focus and questions for thought and discussion.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Register to win an ebook copy of June Foster's "Ryan's Father"


We're happy to have June Foster with us today talking about her book Ryan's Father.

Hope and Help for Homosexuals Who Would Like to Find Freedom From the Lifestyle

Several years ago, the Lord laid on my mind a story in which a Christian young man experiencing same sex attraction desires with all his heart to break free of the lifestyle. Writing the story, Ryan's Father, was a challenge but also a blessing. Now, two years later, I ask myself. Was the story based in reality? Could others like Ryan actually find freedom, or was my story merely wishful thinking?

 As I was praying for homosexual Christian believers recently, several truths from the Bible made impact with my spirit.

A person desiring freedom must first ask himself, "Am I a Christian? Have  I trusted Jesus to save me from this world order and have I asked Him into my life as Savior?" Unless a person has the power of God in his life, there is no hope.

The next step is to come to terms with the fact that homosexuality is a sin. Romans 1:26-27 says "God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion." Leviticus 18:22 is plain. "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman. That is detestable." There are many other scriptures in the Bible. Do a Google search to see them all. Though many try to twist the scriptures, the message is plain. God doesn't excuse homosexuality. It is against His holy will.

But the book of Romans brings good news. Romans 6:6 says "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin." When a person becomes born again, they are a new creature in Christ. Our old self is dead and crucified with Christ. We are no longer slaves of sin. That means that a homosexual is free and not compelled to participate in the behavior.

That's easy to say, but how do we do this, especially when confronted with temptation? If a person is an alcoholic, it would be unwise to hang out in bars. Or if someone suffers from gluttony, he wouldn't want to frequent bakeries or ice cream shops. Turn away from the places and people that evoke the desire to sin. Remove yourself from homosexual friends, gay bars, and literature that says it's okay to practice homosexuality. You've made up your mind to be set free, so walk away.

In the place of these things, participate in church activities, go on mission's trip, join a prayer group, serve at a homeless shelter. Ask God to show you how best to serve Him.

The bottom line is not whether you are a homosexual or a heterosexual. The question is how deep is your relationship with God. How much of yourself have you handed over to the Lord? Settle these issues first. Give yourself to Him one hundred percent. Don't hold anything from Him. Seek Him first and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Maybe you've done all these things and the desires are still there, no matter how hard you try. Well, there's the problem. Stop trying. Those deeply set feelings are not going to let go easily. You can't change by trying hard. You'll only become discouraged and exhausted. So instead of striving to change your thinking, throw yourself on God's mercy and tell Him you can't do this. If He wants your thinking to change, He'll have to do it for you. And remind Him that what you seek is in line with His stated will in the Bible.

Isaiah 40: 30-31 brings us an amazing promise. "Even youths grown tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." When you completely give your life over to the Lord and trust Him, He is faithful to His promises.

Remember what His word says in Ephesians 3: 20-21. "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever."

Ask the Holy Spirit to control your mind. Don't become discouraged when you don't see changes right away. Remember: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake. I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, the I am strong." 11 Corinthians 12: 9-10.

So, the answers to my questions are, yes, the message found in the fictional story Ryan's Father is grounded in reality. The principles in my story are valid today. Do you trust the Creator of all the heavens and the earth? God has a glorious future for you. Don't settle for a lie.

http://smile.amazon.com/Ryans-Father-June-Foster-ebook/dp/B00HUCT54I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1429143512&sr=8-1&keywords=ryan%27s+father+foster
K. Dawn here. Leave June a comment for your chance to win an ebook copy of Ryan's Father.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Jean Williams shares "God's Mercies after Suicide"


God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart will be released for free at my Love Truth blog through installments over a seven month period on March 16, 2015.
I'll post three times per week on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays. There are three parts to each chapter, the devotions, My Mother Memories, and a journal page for the reader.
Until the book comes out in print you could journal on your own, using the suggested headings as shown below:

* ~Your Mother Memories~
* †~Your Prayer of Praise~
* †~A Scripture of Encouragement~

On March 16, 2015, it will be eleven years since my son left his family and friends with our grief, questions, and the memories of him.

When our children die, we want their lives to have mattered. We long for the world to know they were here.

Description

God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart is a devotional of two hundred and nineteen pages, 30,000 words, and is intended for mothers who've lost children to suicide. This book is a friendly, approachable, inviting book that helps mothers feel welcome and at ease to allow them a peaceful time to reflect on their loss and the child they miss. Each chapter has three sections. The devotional begins with Scripture and where the author tells the story of her loss and then ends in a prayer. The second part is of the author's anecdotes and memories of her son. They are short and sweet, with a dramatic style rather than a how-to. The author reenacts moments in her child's life and recalls how she felt to see the different stages of growth and challenges he faced in life. The concluding part to each chapter is a journal page for the readers to write their memories of their child. It allows them space for both memories and grieving, a prayer of praise, and a Scripture of encouragement.
     
When a mother has lost a child, there are times when it's hard to mingle with other people. Each God's Mercies after Suicide chapter can be read and journaled in within the privacy of a mother's home, giving her a bit of hope and rest for another day. The book is distinctive in that it combines coping with the pain of loss while encouraging mothers to search for their own blessings. The book reaches out from its pages and wraps mothers in the warmth and love of their heavenly Father.
     
It has been stated by sufferers of loss to suicide that the topic of suicide is taboo, and that the survivors feel they've been isolated from the normal hum of life. In truth, the ones left behind after the suicide do have a valid point.     
Mothers of loss from suicide face separate concerns that are not taught nor thought about when they become parents. No one wants to consider that they'll give birth to a child who could die by suicide. The mothers who endure this type of pain need a resource that considers their exclusive struggles and offers honest help from one mother to another not in a step-by-step format but in story form, which draws the reader into a world they may know all too well.


PREFACE
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth,
do you not perceive it?
Isaiah 43:18-19
     
I had a dream. I dreamed the nightmare never happened. Our son Joshua never passed on to the hereafter. He married and had children. Then I woke, and knew the dream was only that, a dream. We live with our reality.
     
I've written these devotions for those of you who have shared the deep heartache of a child's suicide. Through my writing, I believe God wants me to share from my heart to yours, by encouraging you and giving you ways to cope. You can have hope and peace after a suicide. God has helped me and He wants to help you. The loss is horrific, but God is faithful. He brought me through this dark time, and He wants to do the same for you.
     
A yearning to write this story came five years into my journey of loss. I sensed a dawn of courage within myself, but I haven't come this far in a blink, nor on my own. Although I knew I'd lose my nerve, only to gain it back time and again before I completed my story, I also knew I'd have the help from Lord God, and the folks He sends my way.
     
Am I full of courage? Yes! Yes, I shout, with God's hand upon me.
     
God, when I falter, I pray You will renew my strength. In Jesus's name. Amen.

Jean Williams Bio
     
Jean Ann Williams lives in Southern Oregon with her husband Jim. Although one of their children has passed on to the Great Beyond, their two remaining children have blessed them with thirteen grandchildren, their Baker's Dozen. To learn more about Jean Ann Williams visit her on Twitter, and her blogs Love Truth and Jean Ann Williams: Author.




For additional information, please click on Jean's blog Love Truth, where snippets of the book are posted three times per week.

Jean has a Facebook account under her name. You can click on her links for Twitter  and Writer Jean Williams blog.