Monday, March 30, 2015

New Life & Dreams - Farewell Deb




Reluctantly I woke up at 7:30 this morning. I was having a lovely dream. My friend Debbie Note had come for a visit, and I didn't want to wake up. 

Deb has been sick for a long while and in the last weeks we all knew she would be stepping into eternity soon. I went to bed last night and my last thought was of her and her family. So, I don't think it's peculiar that I dreamed about Debbie this morning, except I've never had a dream about her before.


In the dream, Debbie came to my house for a visit. That is unusual. In all the years we've known each other she's never been here. We've attended writing conferences together (I love her writing) and I've stayed at her home in Eagle River several times, but in recent years Deb didn't like to wander far from home. So, this dream visit was special.


In the dream she was sick, but beautiful and full of peace and a quiet joy. She was tired so she took a nap. Someone came into the house and was speaking loudly. I asked them to speak quietly because Deb was sleeping. When she woke up we decided to go sight-seeing. It's beautiful here this time of year. 

We traveled about the countryside and came upon a ranch. We didn't know the people who lived there, but we wandered in anyway. There was a family there, but we didn't talk to them. We just peeked in - saw a couple of children and two men - cowboys. At one time in her life, Debbie was all about horses and horseback outings, so this isn't unusual.


When we started to leave, Deb stopped. She had a small paint brush in her hand and on the wall there were two red smears that I thought were blood. One was pale and lifeless, but the other one was a deeper red. She put the paintbrush to it and blended it with whatever was on the brush. It turned a deep, rich crimson and she said, "This is the blood of the man who eats pure and natural beef." And then we left. As we drove down the road we saw some riders who were herding cattle through a draw that had a creek running through it. It was a beautiful sight, golden and warmed by the sun. We stopped for a moment, then drove on, filled with joy and peace.


I'm not an interpreter of dreams, but I was deeply moved by this encounter with my friend. And I wondered if Debbie had passed on. 

I contemplated the dream and this is what I feel was being spoken to my spirit.  


All through the dream I felt a need for quietness, along with Deb's peace and powerful faith. Through the years, I've seen it many times - her passion for the Lord and His Word. Sometimes, it would just flow out of her, quietly and in Deb's special way. I am comforted to know that on this last day of her life, her heart was at peace. 


The blood on the wall? And beef? Well, our minds are funny sometimes, but I think this is all about how rich our lives can be if we will only feast on the Word of God and not let troubles and fears tread upon our Lord's beautiful provision and love. If we will only place our life completely in His hands it will be beautiful, no matter what tribulation comes our way.


And I'd like to think that the cowboys were all about Deb's ride into the light. She's in the presence of the King now where there is no more suffering and no more tears.


Farewell, Deb. I love you.






Here's Deb and some of the Yadas - Lori Benton, 
Bonnie Leon, Karen Ball, Ann Shorey and of course Deb.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Steadfast - Guest Blogger, Teresa Pollard


Another Wednesday and another guest. It is my pleasure to welcome, Teresa Pollard.


Teresa Pollard is from Richmond, Virginia, and was saved at a young age.  She has a Masters degree in English and Creative Writing from Hollins College, and has served as a Sunday School teacher and children’s worker for most of the last forty years.

Married for forty years, she was devastated by divorce and the death of her youngest daughter, but God has blessed her with a new home and another grandson, and she now resides in Dacula, Georgia.  Her website is http://www.TeresaPollardWrites.com.
http://www.Teresatalkstaboo.Wordpress.com




The Breaks

Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.  Isaiah 40:31


“Give me a break.”  People have been using that expression all my life (long before they made Kit Kat bars).  But what does it mean? “Have mercy?” Or, “Forgive me?” Or, maybe  ... On the other hand, I’ve also heard all my life, “That’s the breaks,” meaning “Tough luck, you fool.”  


So which is it?  What is a “break”?


I suppose it’s both.  It’s a fork in the road where we have to make a choice.  Do we keep going along the same path we have been traveling or do we turn in a different direction?  Maybe the “big break” is straight ahead, waiting just around the bend where it can’t be seen yet.  But maybe it’s in that turn if we take the risk of making it.  


Sometimes we make the right choice. We find the “big break.”  Or maybe, what we found wasn’t what we were looking for at all, but for us, it’s even better.  


But what if we made the wrong choice?  What if we were supposed to make that turn a few miles back, and we missed it entirely. Are we just supposed to keep trudging on, putting one foot if front of the other? 


I don’t think so.  I think that’s exactly when we’re supposed to cry out to our Heavenly Father, “Abba, Daddy, please give me a break. I’ve lost my way, and I can’t find the path. 


Getting lost is always easy.  Until recently, I thought I was the most directionally challenged person on Earth.  Now I know better.  That “honor” belongs to my roommate!  Finding our way back to the right road is usually much more difficult. But God is good.  He’s merciful, and He has given us His Holy Spirit to help, comfort, and guide us.  


The only problem is we don’t always listen. It’s like we’re little children who babble, “I can do it myself” when we know, deep down, that we really can’t.  


But, maybe sometimes, the problem is that we aren’t lost at all. We’re actually right where He wants us to be, but we’re in a holding pattern (yes, I know I’m mixing my metaphors!) and 

we’re getting frustrated at the wait. We don’t know what lies ahead, and the temptation is to settle for something less than God’s best.  

My prayer is, “Lord, please help me to never again settle for less than Your best.”  




Not Guilty




It's 1974 and Carrie Shepherd, daughter of the minister at Windspree Community Church, is a college senior with plans to be a missionary in Africa. Raped by a masked assailant, Carrie is so traumatized she tells no one until she realizes  she's pregnant. Refusing to have an abortion, she must find the courage to face her family, her fiance, her friends, and a gossiping, angry congregation which m may include her attacker.



This book sounds great and Teresa is offering a free copy of Not Guilty or a copy of her soon to release, Not Ashamed. All you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment. Make sure to include your email address so Teresa can contact you.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Is God Really Good All The Time?


Before I share what's on my heart today, I'd like to announce the winner of my Alaskan Skies series. Congratulations to Jennifer Sauer! I will be contacting you.



"If God cares so wonderfully for the wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?"




Often when I hear people praise God for something he's done in their lives or for their loved ones and they include, "God is good", I wonder ... how would they feel if their prayers had not been answered the way they had hoped. Would God still be good? 

My family and I have been through many agonizing days these last months. And I have asked, "Is God good all the time?"


Heartache has a way of driving us to God's Word. Here are a few scriptures that soothed my heart today.

Psalm 100:5 - "For the Lord is good and his love endures forever, his faithfulness endures through all generations."


Isaiah 51:6 - "My salvation will last forever."


2 Thessalonians 3:3 "The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one." 


Psalm 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble."

Job 2:10 "Should we accept good from God and not trouble?"


Isaiah 42:16 "I will turn the darkness into light."


The Lord loves deeply, beyond our ability to fully understand. He even provided a way for each of us to spend eternity with Him. He gave his son - what more could he give?


The apostle Paul proclaimed God to be good even when he had been beaten and imprisoned for his faith. He did not waver. 


God's goodness and love is infused in every book of the Bible. If I believe that His Word is true, then I must believe He is good all of the time. 

And I agree with Psalm 27: 13 - 14

  "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."


Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie





Sunday, March 15, 2015

God's Mercies After Suicide


I cannot comprehend the devastation that follows the loss of a child to suicide, but Jean Williams can. I'm privileged to be part of the launch of her book, God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart. Jean will be posting the devotional on her blog.


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 Face Book, Twitter, and her blogs Love Truth and Jean Ann Williams: Author.

http://joshua-mom.blogspot.com/
http://jeanannwilliams.blogspot.com/

Jean's book will release in installments, on her blog, beginning March 16. She will post three times per week - Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The posts will have three parts for each chapter - the devotions, My Mother Memories, and a journal page for the reader. 

Until the book releases in print readers can journal on their own, using the suggested headings below:

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

From Jean Ann Williams: 

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.”

God's Mercies After Suicide opens with this 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 the 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.





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 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. Included in the preface of the book is this paragraph: “I’ve written these devotions for those mothers 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 theirs, by encouraging them and giving them ways to cope. Mothers can have hope and a due measure of peace after a suicide. God has helped me, and He wants to help other mothers. The loss is horrific, but God is faithful. He brought me through this dark time, and He wants to do the same for all mothers.”

Mothers of loss from suicide face separate concerns—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.


Jean, thank you for sharing from your heart. I know your journey will minister to others who are traveling this painful road. 

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Guest Blogger - Preslaysa Williams


Ever wonder how to balance work and parenting? My guest this week has some helpful hints when it comes to the balancing act. Welcome Preslaysa Williams. 


Preslaysa Williams (pronounced press-lay-suh) is a novelist and expert multi-tasker. She writes and edits fiction while her children nap and reads novels during her (almost) daily walks.

A 2013 ACFW Genesis finalist and a 2014 ACFW Genesis semi-finalist, she writes inspirational romance and middle grade fiction of the happily ever after sort.

Visit her online at
www.preslaysa.com



10 Ways to Nurture a Mama-Writing Life

Life with small children comes with a multitude of challenges. There have been many times I've walked the grocery store aisle with my two energetic children wearing a dazed, deer-in-headlights mama look on my face. Well-meaning people have come up to me and said, “Oh these are the

best years of your life. Enjoy those little ones.” I’d think to myself: Umm, it’s kind of tough to enjoy anything right now when my son is wielding a breakable bottle of Kikkoman Soy Sauce and my daughter has maneuvered her way out of the child straps in the shopping cart.

But who am I to complain?


Aside from these (very frequent) moments, I enjoy being with my children. They are cute and funny and shockingly wise at times. I also enjoy writing. For me, these two activities have shaped the grown up version of me (Preslaysa: version 2.0). However, it’s a daily challenge to squeeze in mothering and writing in one day. When I awaken each morning an internal clock starts its countdown. This internal clock reminds me I have only so many hours to do the following:


• Fill my daily writing quota


• Fill my daily editing quota


• Do any social media/blog promotion tasks


• Do homeschool lessons with the children


• Read good storybooks to the children


• Oversee and assist my son’s violin practice


• Oversee and train my children to do a simple chore or two


• Manage the inevitable child tantrum(s) or sibling squabble(s).


• Do my daily chores


• Do my weekly chores


• Update the budget, pay bills, etc.


• Read a novel


• And oh yeah, take a shower, brush my teeth and get dressed or something...


I’m pretty sure you, Mama Writer, have a pretty full plate too. Here are 5 ways to ensure you thrive both as a mom and as a writer.


1) Have a dedicated writing space. As moms, we spend a lot of time in giving mode and very little time nurturing our creative spirit. Set aside a space in your home that is off limits to children. A “room of your own” to quote Virginia Woolf. It doesn’t have to be a full room. A small desk or table away from the main activity of the family will do. You don’t always have to write in that space, of course, but knowing it’s waiting for you provides a psychological boost. You are telling yourself that the work you do as a writer matters, regardless of whether you are published or pre-published.


2) Steal time. This is one of my favorite techniques for writing. When my children are playing or eating or napping, I take out my handy dandy notebook and start writing, or I’ll pull out a page from a rough draft and start editing. These little moments add up quickly.


3) Carry a notebook or index cards with you. Collect ideas for stories or blog posts, lines of dialogue, character snippets, and rough scene outlines for later use. This will help guard against that mythical idea called “writer’s block.” When you sit down to write, you’ll have a bunch of ideas ready to flesh out. If you use index cards, make sure they are attached to a ring binder for ease of use.


4) Use a Timer. I love timers. A timer keeps me on track during the day. I have two - one for upstairs and one for downstairs. I also have a timer on my wristwatch. (I’m a little obsessive about timers!) For 2015, I recently found a great Google Extension called Stay Focused which will block me out of social media sites after I fill my daily time limit quota on sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. I tell you, Stay Focused made me quickly prioritize

how I spend my time on social media! These tools alone have kept me more focused and less idle. They’ve empowered me to actually do the work that shapes my greater calling as a wife,

5) Use checklists. I am also a checklist person. It’s not because I am particularly organized; I am quite the opposite. Checklists are my taskmaster. I’ve created a checklist that maps out my normal morning, afternoon and evening routines. I don’t follow my checklists to a T, and that’s okay. I can go to bed with an unfinished checklist guilt free. I have another day to accomplish those tasks. However, if I didn’t have the checklist to remind me, I’d be all scrambled up! Checklists simply tell me to do what matters whenever I am prone to get lost in the World Wide Web. Checklists are a girl’s best friend.


There you have it: five easy ways to manage a writing life and motherhood. What have you done to manage this Great Balancing Act?



Preslaysa, when I first entered the world of writing I had young children. I well remember how difficult it was to balance my writing career and mothering. Thank you for these helpful guidelines.

Although Preslaysa doesn't yet have a book ready to purchase, she is hard at work. She's creating an inspirational romance set in Charleston, South Carolina while also writing a middle grade novel placed in New York, NY.


Cheering for you, Preslaysa!



It's Wednesday 
which means FREE books!
This week I'm giving away a complete series.



To qualify for the drawing, all you need to do is leave a comment. Make sure to include your email address so I can contact you.

Our winner from last week is Deanna Stevens!

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

Monday, March 09, 2015

Who Am I?





How do we define ourselves? Am I a wife - a mother - a writer - a daughter - sister - sinner - disabled - loser? 

Loser!? I just threw that in to see if you're paying attention. I can't belong to the King of Kings and be a loser.

Let's forget loser, but can we define ourselves by just one title? It would seem silly to do such a thing, but sometimes that's just exactly what we do. I love being a wife, mother, and a writer but I don't much like being a sinner or disabled. And though I can't ignore those descriptions I shouldn't place them at the top of my list, though sometimes I do. 

Above all things, I am a child of God, the Great I Am, the King of King and Lord of Lords. He defines me. 

Just the idea of being the child of The King opens up a realm of possibilities that are incomprehensible. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be the daughter of the president or the wealthiest or most powerful man in the country? How would that shape your life or change it? 

How much more amazing, then, is it to be a child of God? I am cared for, sheltered, and loved by The Great I Am. There is no one above Him - no one who is wiser or more powerful or more loving. He's it. And He calls Himself Father. My Dad. 

Nothing is impossible with God.

Just think on that for a while. I am.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie 

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Steadfast - Guest Blogger Cathy Elliott


It's my pleasure to have the delightful, Cathy Elliott as my guest today. We met many years ago at a writing conference. I've never forgotten her open, friendly personality and gentle spirit. Her story is special. I'm not surprised.  

Cathy Elliott is a full-time writer who lives in northern California. Her cozy mysteries reflect her personal interests from quilting and antique collecting to playing her fiddle with friends.
She also leads music at church and cherishes time with her grandchildren.

Cathy’s other plot-twisting works include Medals in the Attic and A Vase of Mistaken Identity.

Website & Occasional Blog - www.cathyelliottbooks.com
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/cathyelliott10/
Facebook – Author Cathy Elliott cathyelliottbooks.com


Unexpected Healing:

When folks ask me, “Why do you write?” I tell them I write for joy.
     Now looking back, I can see another purpose for my writing. Yes, joy is a definite payback for every page of every story. But there is more.
     Thirteen years ago, my writing journey was new. I had just signed with an agent and was hard at work on my first novel, anticipating how God would bless my writer journey.
     A long weekend dawned and I had big plans. Mostly, plans to enjoy time off work while upping my word count ... after I slept late.
     At about 7:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, my phone rang, frightening me awake.
     “Hello?” I said, my voice groggy. Please let this be a wrong number!
     “Your dad won’t wake up. Can you come out?” My mother’s tone was tinged with desperation. “I don’t know what to do!”
     Thus began a very uncertain and emotional time for both of us. After a fall in the night that left him with a brain bleed, Daddy had to be hospitalized. We faced decisions about surgery, and later, witnessed a rehabilitation that didn’t take. It was a great deal for my mother to endure at her advanced age.
     Behind the scene, I fought my own selfish thoughts. Did this mean I must put aside my writing? How could I come alongside my mom when I was writing a book? All the doors that had opened for me seemed as if they must swing the opposite way now.
     After Daddy awoke from surgery, recognized me, and smiled his beautiful smile, I knew I could give up writing. My heart seemed to dance with the possibility of his return to health. Much might be required of me in this season, but I was so glad for more time with him. Whatever it took, I told myself, swallowing hard. I could do it!
     One day, I came home to a message flashing on my answering machine. “I have a publishing house interested in your manuscript. I know you were doing some rewrites, but can you finish fast?” my agent asked. “I want to send the proposal to them right away!”
     What? Interest from an editor in something I’d written? I knew then that God had not asked me to give up writing. I marveled at His kindness, wondering how quickly I could pull these rewrites together. I grabbed my computer to take with me and zoomed
out to pick up my mom for a visit with her sweetheart.
     After that, I took my laptop often when we went on our visits. I’d read emails to Daddy from family, then work a little on my book while he and Mother chatted together.
     Whenever we left the nursing home, we were overcome with sadness. Daddy seemed to be slipping backwards. To cope, mom read books I brought her from the library. I spent joyous time in Thea’s fictive world, writing my first book, A Vase of Mistaken Identity.
     And in the doing, I found healing.
     My dear Dad didn’t live long enough to see it published, but I mentioned him in the dedication, hoping he could see from heaven. I’m sure he had better things to do there, but I know he would have been proud, had he still been here.
     Years passed, I had another book published, and my mother became more and more frail, moving into an assisted living facility. Two years ago, she fell and broke her hip, starting her on a slow downward slide, never fully recovering. That October, her physician counseled me that it was time for Mother to go on hospice. She had lost that sparkle and wouldn’t eat, sleeping much of the time.
     I couldn’t bear the idea, but I knew the doctor was right. And so I filled out the paperwork and waited, trying to tempt her to eat, treasuring every moment in her company, and sad to my core.
     But God had a new plan. I got another call from my agent. The second adventure starring my dear little amateur sleuth, Thea James, had been sold to Abingdon Press as a part of their Quilts of Love series. I had another book to write. A sweet diversion to think
about and to enjoy as I walked alongside my mother in her final journey.
     Again, Thea made me laugh with her crazy antics as she pulled me into her world. I couldn’t stay sad for long. When Mother’s journey was so hard for us both, I could delight in Thea’s British War-Bride Gram and her bumbling ways. When my mom was
sleeping through our visits, I could have an inner chat with Thea and she with me. I plotted her adventures and devised how my clumsy protagonist might stumble out of another scrape. And again in the writing, there was healing for my wounded heart.
     Then, in the middle of what seemed our last days together, my mother began to awaken. She started to eat again, talk to the caregivers, and smile her beautiful, blessing of a smile. Her health returned and to everyone’s amazement, she graduated off hospice
and lived well enough for another two years.
     On this section of the journey, as before, God provided opportunities for me to write about Thea and company, in the form of a book contract. Then, while I found joy and healing in the doing of the thing, He gently healed Mother, too, giving her more time to
cast her sweetness about. And giving me more precious time with her.
     How glad I am that God gave me Thea and her stories to write during those difficult times. It truly gave me great joy. And the unexpected blessing of healing.


A Stitch in Crime
Free to one of you.




  Thea James thought working as co-chair for Larkindale's first quilt show extravaganza would be a natural extension of her antique business. But while organizing the busy week's premiere events would make anyone frayed, she doesn't expect a complete unraveling!
   At the opening soiree, local matriarch Mary-Alice Wentworth is knocked unconscious and robbed of her diamond brooch. Soon a rare quilt - the main attraction and a rumored key to great riches - goes missing. Those who signed up to help Thea are strangely no help at all. What more could possibly happen?
   Amid a cast of colorful characters and a tight schedule of garden galas, tea parties, and televised socials, everything is falling apart at the seams - and nothing is quite what it seems. Can Thea sew everything back together?


"...Fans of inspirational fiction will enjoy the funny, feel-good whodunit."
Publishers Weekly Review - November 7, 2014

“…There is mystery and laughter, and Elliott’s characters are strong, confident and
determined to make their mark….Fans will want to add this gem to their keeper shelf.”
RT 4-Star Review November 12, 2014


This sounds like a fun, fabulous story, Cathy! Thanks for being my guest.

If you'd like to be included in a drawing to win a FREE copy of A Stitch in Crime leave a comment. Please include your email address so Cathy can contact the winner.

Last week's winner of Nancy Mehl's book, Deadly Echoes is ...
Loraine Nunley! Congratulations!

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie




  

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