Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Books & Writing - Welcome Paula Mowery

It's a pleasure to have Paula Mowery as my guest today on Books & Writing. Welcome Paula.

Paula is a pastor's wife and former homeschool Mom. She has always been an avid reader of Christian fiction. She began writing first in the nonfiction genre, creating three Bible studies, which were self-published. However, she crafted fiction stories which she shared with friends and family. 

When one of her readers encouraged her to pursue publication, she joined American Christian Fiction Writers, where she learned more about the world of fiction. Her debut work The Blessing Seer is a novella published by Harbourlight, a division of Pelican Book Group. Paula is also an acquiring editor for Prism Book Group. 

It's nearly August - summer is winding down. Can you tell us what your favorite summer memory is?

I believe we made a summer memory this May when we traveled to Pensacola, Florida to see my daughter graduate with her homeschool class. We always said if we survived 12 years of school together, we would have to be involved in the graduation ceremonies. She graduated from ABeka Academy with 372 others from 48 of the states and 5 other countries. Her father and I joked that she would have to deal with the fact that her parents were on her Senior trip since we stayed at the beach that next week after the graduation. I will never forget the young woman I saw march across that stage. I was a proud mama.

Beautiful memory, indeed.

Paula, can you sum up your homeschooling experience in one sentence? And would you do it again?

I will forever be grateful that God allowed me to stay home to educate my child and raise her in His ways. Though it wasn't always easy, I would do it all again, seeing the person God has formed her to become.

You've written a number of articles, Bible studies and two novellas. Can you share a little about how you started your writing journey?

Before homeschooling my own daughter, I taught English in public school. I tried to set a good example by reading and writing in front of my students. I've always been an avid reader of Christian fiction since my mother began to bring home books from her job at a Christian bookstore. Mom also brought home journals which I would fill with stories and poems. God inspired me to write Bible studies and teach them at churches where my husband served as pastor. I always had that "secret" notebook where I was writing fiction. 

One day I ventured to share a novel with a friend who encouraged me to look into publishing. I joined ACFW and learned what writing for God and publishing was all about. Several authors suggested starting small, so I wrote some magazine articles, having two accepted by a national magazine. A couple of years ago, I laid out my fleece, asking God to give me a sign as to whether publishing was on the horizon for me. He answered and led me to Pelican Book Group and the publication of The Blessing Seer.

My writing journey has been a process of listening to God's direction and learning all I can about how to write.

You're not only a writer but an acquisitions editor as well. What is it like to wear both hats?

Yep, God really dropped the editor position right in my lap! One thing I've learned as an editor, I can see how to polish another manuscript, but with my own work I seem blinded. I joke that God has given me the editor position to feed that English teacher in me. But, don't worry, I don't "bleed" on the manuscripts. It is so exciting to help an aspiring writer achieve their dream of publication.

My only struggle is to balance my time between writing and editing. But the timing works out well. I no longer will be educating my daughter. She's moving on to college. I shouldn't be surprised how it all fell into place - God's timing is perfect.

Even after all my years of walking with God, I continue to be amazed at His timing. 

You have a sequel to your first novella, The Blessing Seer. The new book is called Be the Blessing. 

What a beautiful cover. Can you tell us a little about how you came up with the idea for this series of books?

The Blessing Seer came from a sermon illustration. As I went to bed one night, I was mulling over a story about a man who goes to heaven and sees a warehouse filled with unopened gifts. An angel tells him that those are all of the blessings God wants to give to people, but they haven't asked for. 

I  thought about how we receive blessings - some just given from God and others we receive only after obeying a directive. Then, I thought about how many blessings I must miss out on because I either don't ask or don't obey.

I had no sooner lay down and turned out the lamp, than God downloaded the complete outline for The Blessing Seer into my mind. I jumped back up and wrote it down as fast as my hands could write. After it was contracted and the edits had begun, my editor asked if I thought there would be a sequel. Well . . . my mind started cranking and the sequel was born. God let me know that the main character's story wasn't over. he still had plenty to say and teach me. Be the Blessing will be released soon.

I look forward to hearing more about Be the Blessing.

What's next? Are you working on a new project?

I wrote a story to be included in an anthology with three other authors. Brave New Century will be published through Prism Book Group. It is a collection of four historical romance stories. My story, Forgiven, is based on my paternal grandparents.

Also, I am in the midst of revising a story called The Prayer Shawl, which will be paired with another story called A Lamp Unto My Feet. These are both contemporary romance in which a grandmother had a godly influence.

I am also revising another romance called Inheritance per request of my editor.

You are staying busy. I'll be watching for upcoming books.

How can people contact you on the web?

Please connect with me on my blog (you can subscribe through your email) - www.paulamowery.blogspot.com and on my new author Facebook page found under pages and my name, Paula Mowery - please "Like" me there. 

You can also find me on the Prism submissions page -   www.prismbookgroup.com.

You can read my columns at  www.christianonlinemagazine.com.




Monday, July 29, 2013

Quiet Moments With God - Do You Trust Me?

I've been feeling melancholy today. I learned this week that someone I trust and love and very much admire in the faith has a starkly different perspective on eternal security than I do.

 I believe God has laid out a clear path to understanding whether or not our salvation is secure. In John He tells us several times that all we must do to be saved is to believe in the Son of God. Ephesians four reminds us that believers are sealed for all time.

When we believe we become brand new creations through Christ. We are regenerated and adopted as God's own children. And though a child may become disappointed, even angry with a parent they will always be His child. There are no give-backs. If one of my own children became so angry or disappointed in me that they felt they actually hated me and told me they would never have anything more to do with me, they would still be my child. We are bonded by blood, just as we are bonded with Christ by His blood. I would be heartbroken, but I would still be the mother of that child because the bond of blood cannot be broken.

Since my conversation with my Christian brother, I've spent many hours studying applicable scriptures. And I've been reassured that my salvation is secure. Though, I may lose heavenly rewards I will never lose my place in eternity with  my Father. Praise Him for his mercy!

So, what now? I've prayed. My husband has prayed. We wait.

Our Heavenly Father has whispered, "Seek me. Trust me - Do you trust me?"

"Yes! We trust you."

"All right then. This path is not too difficult for you. Remain in me and see what work I have for you to do."

We will do our best to follow God and His will for us. Each day, each step is about what He wants, not just for us but also from us. We ask for His wisdom about when to speak and when to be silent. And when it is time to speak, we seek guidance from the Holy Spirit in what we should and should not say.

Christians are never going to agree on all things. We're just people and that's okay. But, there are some lines we cannot cross. Those things that are stronger than personal convictions, the truths that come straight from God's Word. Those we must stand on. And we will stand . . . though with gentleness and in love.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Books & Writing - Top Ten Favorite Books

If I wasn't working as a writer I'd want to work in a book store or a library. I love books! All kinds of books. 

They take me places I've never been - open my mind to new ideas - draw me closer to God - give me courage to do more than I ever thought possible. The amazing thing is that I can do all that without leaving the safe haven of my comfy chair. I get to live out adventures, be carried along where I experience new times and places, and get to know the most interesting people. Sometimes, I even get to fall in love all over again. And there are books that renew my heart and mind, when I am given courage and hope.

I can't imagine a world without books. There was time when there was no written word and yet stories were handed down from generation to generation in the form of music, dance and the spoken word. I treasure story tellers.

My favorite genre is Women's Fiction and Historical Fiction, but it's always good to step out of one's typical read and try something new from time to time. I love books for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it's a powerful writing voice. It can be the story or the characters I fall in love with. I don't fully comprehend the mystery of what clicks in my mind and heart about a book, but I do know that those I love most captivate me and they have characters I care about, people I cry and cheer with.

I'm excited about stories - can you tell? 

I've listed my top ten all-time favorites. Making these choices was excruciatingly difficult. I love so many. When I decided to list only ten that meant leaving off  many books I absolutely love, but there just isn't room to list them all. So, here are my top ten picks . . . at least for today.

I hedged a little. There are eleven books on this page. The Shape of Mercy is at the top.  :-)
If you haven't read some of these books yet you might want to try them. I'd love to know what your favorites are. Please share with the rest of us.

I hope you find a way to fill your life with great stories.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, July 22, 2013

Quiet Moments With God - Grace

This morning began with outrage. I was furious - ready to pounce and make sure that a certain somebody knew how outraged I was. And then I read a beautiful devotion, given to me from a friend, but it's really from God. I know it's from Him because it was placed in front of my eyes at just the right moment and so gently reminded me of  God's  . . .


Grace was given by God. I do not deserve it. He should be outraged with me. He could have pounced. He did not. He could have banished me to an eternity without Him. He did not. 

Instead he offered grace. 

"God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."

Ephesians 2:8 - 10

Thank you Father for your mercy and love. Thank you for making me brand new. I don't deserve it. 

Grace and peace to you from God,


I recommend this link to any and all  - http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/07/a-letter-to-kate-7-way-to-labor-deliver-your-best-life/

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Journey - Elderly Parents

My mother is eighty-eight years old and lives nearby in an assisted living home. A year and a half ago, after open heart surgery followed by a severe infection and the loss of her husband, Mom moved from the state of Washington to Roseburg, Oregon so she could be close to me and her grandchildren. She settled into an apartment in an assisted living center, and I was thrown into a whole new way of living. Our lives became intertwined.

We've been sharing life ever since, some of it has been sorrowful and some full of joy. I'm grateful for every day.

In the beginning Mom was grieving deeply over the loss of her husband, home and her health. Grief is still close at hand, but she has grown accustomed to her new home, even though she reminds me regularly it's really not home. She made friends and became active in her small community. She loves playing bingo and makes trips to local attractions and joins others who live in the center on drives to enjoy the beauty of Southern Oregon.

Mom is blessed, even though each day is a challenge. It's not easy to be old when your body and mind are giving out. And it's not easy being the daughter either. My heart breaks when I see her suffer, but the heartache doesn't strip away any of my gratitude about our being together. We relive memories, share our favorite books and movies and we celebrate holidays and anniversaries together. Whenever possible we get out and enjoy the wonder of nature.

The tough stuff - her health - is  something we also share. So much of our time is spent at doctor's offices and even the hospital from time to time. Yesterday she had a doctor's visit that was followed by a hospital visit. She's not feeling well, but she's still full of love and gratitude that spills over onto me. Yesterday while helping a technician with Mom's X-rays, the tech thanked me. I was close to tears as I looked at my precious mother trying to do all that was asked of her while coping with pain. I answered  the tech with, "Well, that's my mama." Mom's reply - "That's my daughter."

Her words were warm with love and appreciation. I can't count how many times she's told me how much she loves me and is thankful for me. When we look at each other, even when we're weary, we see how strong our love is for the other. Love is powerful. It is healing. And it makes life beautiful.

These days, like winter, can be sharp and cold, but I am grateful for every one, even those days spent in the hospital. My mother is a gift to her family, and God knew how much we needed her. She needs us too. God's design of family was pure genius - well He is God after all.

If the years are winding down for you or someone you love, make the most of every single day. Spend time together, even if it has to happen long distance. The time will come when earthly days end and we won't have the opportunity for another hug or an "I love you." At least not until heaven..

Don't  put off the opportunities for another day. You may not have any more.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Quiet Moments With God - In The Moment

This morning I glanced through my journal and discovered an entry from back in March. At that time, I was having a terrible flare up with my back and had poured my frustrations and anxieties onto the page. Part of what I'd written was about my uncertainty over the future and what it held for me, even though I wasn't there yet.

It is true, that in recent years my chronic pain has intensified. Most days I try not to go to the place of what if's, but sometimes they creep in and I end up in the wrong place - a state of worry over a time in the future, which I haven't reached yet.

The truth is there is almost always something we can worry about - How will we manage our finances - the illness of a loved one - finding time to complete a list of "must do's", and on it goes. We even waste time worrying about things that can't be changed and lots of stuff that just might happen. When I shine a light on all of that I wonder, "Why do I do this?"

This morning while reading God's Word and praying, God gently reminded me, once more, that all that worry isn't pleasing to Him, plus it keeps me from relishing the present moment that He's given me.  Each minute spent anxiously trying to figure out what is to come means I've missed the moment I'm in - the right now of living. And each of those moments are here and then gone, moments we cannot reclaim. 

Each is precious. 

What would our life look like if we refused to allow anxiety about our future rip into us and instead embraced the right now's and praised God for every one of them? We might enjoy all those extra glorious moments. This morning while praying I felt God's presence - powerful and full of grace. I wasn't thinking about tomorrow or the next day, only Him. With it came wonder and joy. 

Matthew speaks about worry in Matthew 6:25 - 27. He says, That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life - whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

I had to stop at the last line. The answer, of course is no. 

Let's try living just one day in the moment. I mean really try. Every time our mind wanders away from enjoying  the right now of living drag it back and think of the present circumstance. Even if it's not so pretty, at least it is just for the moment. 

Let me know if you try this. What did you discover? Wouldn't it be amazing if we could live every day like that?

Grace and peace to you from God,


Friday, July 12, 2013

The Journey - Scary Roads

Journeys oftentimes take us on scary roads (literally). I've always been afraid when driving narrow, winding cliff roads. 

Even when I was a kid, I'd get scared. We used to travel from Western Washington to Eastern Washington to see family. If the snow had melted enough we'd take a high mountain pass over the Cascade Mountains called Chinook Pass. It would scare the pants off me.

My mother loved that drive. She was fearless. She'd gaze out the window at mountains blanketed by deep-green forests with meadows buried in snow and admire the view. All the while, unaffected by the cliff that fell thousands of feet below us at the edge of the road. She'd say, "Oh Roy (that's my dad and he was driving), look at that." Inside I'd be screaming, "Don't look! Keep your eyes on the road!" I'd be gripping the edge of the seat so tightly my knuckles would be white.

My family used to have way too much fun at my expense. I was the only one terrified of cliff roads. And it seemed that every time I turned around we'd be going somewhere that called on me to be brave. Each September we'd travel high into the mountains to pick huckleberries. It required driving a road very similar to the one in the photo above. In most places the road was too narrow for two cars to pass. I remember on several occasions that my father had to back down to make room for another driver coming from the opposite direction. I really didn't like that.

I loved our time up there in the mountains. We'd pick berries and picnic. It was always a special family time. But the road terrified me.

I've traveled lots of scary roads while gripping the steering wheel and trying not to look at the cliff at the edge of my tires. In fact, I live on a road that's kind of like that. My first trip up I told my husband, "I can never drive this road." When we decided to buy the property Greg said glibly, "Don't worry. You'll be fine."

I didn't believe him, but as it turned out he was right. I've had a few scary moments in the ice and snow, but mostly  I love the road. It has spectacular views and every time I drive up or down I get to look at them. I hate to think of how many amazing experiences I'd have missed if I'd been too afraid to drive the road and didn't buy the property.

Life's journey is full of scary roads, literally and figuratively. 

Even when we're afraid, we need to drive them. They often lead us to the most amazing places where we can enjoy spectacular views.

Have you had scary road experiences? I'd love to know about the scariest road you've ever been on. Please share.

Enjoy the journey,


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Books & Writing: Secrets to a Happy Life

I just read 
Secrets to a Happy Life
and I love it!

Before I talk about the book, I'd like to introduce the author, Bill Giovannetti. 

He says, "If we could share lattes at Starbucks, I'd introduce myself with a good amount of randomness."

And so he does.

  • I'm into woodworking (I made my wife a grandfather clock, and I'm still banking on that leverage).
  • Bass fishing calls out to me.
  • Good Italian food - especially Chicago pizza - is my love language.
  • My wife, Margi, is a bundle of living awesomeness. She's an attorney and teaches business law classes at Simpson University.
  • I have two kids that blow my mind with brilliance, beauty, sweetness and fun.
  • God is better to me than I deserve.
  • I'm honored to teach at W.W. Tozer Theological Seminary and Simpson University. I  think I'm an easy grader.
  • My first love is pastoring, and I am blessed beyond words to lead the incredible people called Neighborhood Church of Redding.
  • We're home schoolers, mainly because I work on Saturdays and Sundays (church-wise), and our family needed to see me once in a while. By we, I mean my wife, who does an unspeakably excellent job of teaching our munchkins.
  • When I first became a pastor, my first office was the birthplace of AWANA.

I've never met Bill, but making that happen is now officially included on my Bucket List. We share the same literary agency, Books & Such, so I think the meeting is within reach.

Now, about his book, Secrets to a Happy Life. When I finished reading I had to share. It is just so good.

About the book:

Can you really be happy in ANY situation?

Contrary to pupular belief, happy people aren't born happy. And they face difficulties as we all do. But they have discovered something the rest of us can learn - how to tap into a deep happiness that flows no matter the circumstance.
     Filled with practical advice and biblical wisdom, Secrets to a Happy Life shows how true satisfaction is anchored to the soul, safe from the disappointments and stresses at the surface of life. Drawing lessons from the remarkable life of Joseph, who was sold into slavery at a young age and endured much hardship, you will discover how to:
  • See all the ways God is working for your joy.
  • Get beyond the negative emotions that hold you back.
  • Find rest in God's goodness and control.
  • Create - and tap into - your own deep well of happiness.
Life will always have its ups and downs, but with the life-changing secrets in this book, you can amplify and sustain the joy already inside you.

My thoughts:  The minute I opened the pages of this book I knew it was special because I scrambled to find a pen so I could underline Bill's thoughts. I underlined, bracketed and drew circles around the life-changing words on the pages - words that spoke to my heart. I knew I'd be back to look at them again.

As I read, the Holy Spirit spoke to me. He used this book to shout out principles I already know, but badly needed to be reminded of.

Bill has done a quality job. He writes with passion, using humor, theology, creativity and down to earth talk to help readers grab hold of God's truth. He has designed us to be happy and to find joy in life. It is His gift to us. Happiness is for everyone, no matter the circumstances.

My husband and I are reading the book together and we will very likely lead a small group in the fall, using Secrets to a Happy Life as a tool. Bill includes questions at the end of each chapter that are thought provoking and great discussion starters. I can't wait to introduce it to people I love.

And I hope each person reading this will go out and get a copy today. Don't put it up on the shelf, thinking that one day you'll get to it. Read it. It can change your life.

Thank you Bill. Your hard work is a blessing to me.

Bill is available online at:

http://www.Bill Giovannetti.com

And for more resources for this book go to http://www.secrettoahappylife.org.

Friday, July 05, 2013

The Journey - Celebrations

Celebrations are part of our journey together. They can be symbolic of something great or  meaningful or simply a fun activity. I like all kinds.

With the Fourth of July celebrations winding down I've been thinking about the family gatherings and special activities taking place across our nation. Summer get-togethers are especially fun because we usually do something outdoors - picnics, swimming, boating or playing games. And summertime foods are especially delicious.

For my family, the Fourth is usually kind of low key, although some years we've taken part in community celebrations, working alongside friends and family to reach out and celebrate our country's birthday with crowds of people. And I especially love Fourth of July parades. Most often, though, with us it's just family. We kind of hang out around home and enjoy one another's company. The younger folks play games while us "old" folks laugh and cheer them on. And there is always something interesting to talk about, especially when my brother Bruce is here (like this year). He's always full of Alaskan tales.

We have good food, with watermelon being a must have. Fireworks of some kind always top off the day. I love laying under a dark sky and watching a huge display of colors and sounds, but this year we decided to purchase our own and wait until the sun set to enjoy a  more conservative display right in our own front yard while the kids cheered and clapped. The littlest in our clan, Kadin, thought they were pretty cool. Next year he'll probably get to run around the yard with his own sparklers. This year he just watched wide eyed and smiling.

I have some warm and wonderful memories of past Fourths, spent with friends and family. One time, I was sick and my father wrapped me up in a blanket and carried me to a get together at our neighbors so I wouldn't miss out. I think it was one of my favorite Fourths ever because my dad made me feel special and loved by making sure I could be there. And then there was the time when me and my family attended a special fireworks display in our community. One of the fireworks fell back into the launching pad and set off all the fireworks at the same time. Everyone was diving behind cars to keep from getting hit by a flying fireball. I was little and don't remember, but I can imagine what it was like.

Do you have special Fourth of July memories? What did you do this year?

I  hope you all had a great time and didn't forget how blessed we are to live in the USA.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Quiet Moments With God - Tapestry of Life

A friend of ours died yesterday. Each time there is a death I think of life. Memories of good times and bad fill my mind. But inevitably my thoughts wander to my own life. Am I wasting the days I've been given or have I  made the most of them? 

The day we draw our first breath a clock begins ticking and continues until we draw our last.  Each day is designed and given by God. They are His gift to us. Gifts are meant to be cherished and used, not set high on a shelf where they are forgotten. 

Days slip by - weeks - months - years. When we look back what do we see? Have we reached out to others? Have we loved well? Have we enjoyed the gifts given and shared them with others? What about the time we've spent with friends and loved ones? Did we sing songs together - tell stories or play games? Have we enjoyed a good book or a good meal with someone we care about? Did we hold someone's hand during a hard time or when we prayed together or rejoiced together? Have we cherished this precious place called earth? Have we prepared for heaven and told others that heaven waits for them too? Did we tell people about Jesus? 

What have we done with our days?

There are only so many to live. They are numbered, a number known only by God. They may seem endless, but that is a deception. For one day we are here and then, like a mist, we are gone. When our day comes to say farewell will we be at rest, knowing we've cherished the moments? Or will we anguish over a life squandered? 

Each day is filled with promise. Treasure them. 

God walks alongside us. He knows the beginning and the end. And in the Master's hands our lives become a tapestry woven with brilliant reds, deep blues and vibrant greens that shimmer with the beauty of life.

Grace and peace to you from God,