Monday, October 28, 2013

Quiet Moments With God - Are You The Real Deal?

Over the weekend my husband and I set out to purchase a new car. We knew what to expect from car salesmen. After all, they need to make a living just like the rest of us so they generally work hard to make a sale. We were prepared to walk the gamut toward a new car purchase. 

We visited a couple of different lots. The first salesman, or I should say, sales woman, gently coaxed us toward a purchase. We found a car we thought might be a good fit but decided we should have a look at a few other models before making a decision.

At the next dealership a young salesman greeted us. He was polite and friendly - not pushy. We took a car out for a test drive while he told us about all its great features. We liked the car, but it was a bit spendy for us and we told the salesman so. That's when the big guns were called in.

Another salesman, who had obviously had more experience, stepped in. He was pushy, but we'd expected that so it was no big deal. Each time he left the room to see about getting us a better price, my husband and I shared a few chuckles over his demeanor. 

It would have been all right, except this powerful salesman started making wisecracks about his wife. Several times he ridiculed or made fun of the person he was supposed to love and respect above all others. Each dig made me more and more uncomfortable until I was actually creeped out. Any trust I'd had in that salesman was gone, along with my respect. 

While considering yesterday's encounter with the aggressive salesman I got to thinking about how important who I am is to the most important man in my life. No. Not my husband, though he's a close second. But to Jesus Christ. 

How do I present Jesus Christ to the world?

I would never make fun of Him or purposely disrespect Him, but when I walk out into the world as one of His representatives I need to consider what others see. What I do and say says a lot about how I feel about my Lord. 

Romans 13:11 - 14 says, "This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don't participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Verse eleven refers to the verse just before it, which tells us "Love does no wrong to others."  

As it turned out, we did not purchase a car from the man who maligned his wife. I had no peace about it.We returned to the original car lot where I became the proud owner of a brand new Dodge Journey. I hope its a good car for us.

In some ways we are like car salesmen or any salesman for that matter. We market our faith. When others watch our life would they want to buy into our faith? I'm not only speaking about the world out there but the one where we live - close friends and family. 

Are we a mouth piece for the Lord that says "I am the way the truth and the life" or something altogether different?

Do not feel guilt if you look closely and don't like what you see. None of us is perfect. But if we feel convicted by the Holy Spirit to be a brighter light for Christ we need to listen to that voice. We can make a difference in this world - one person at a time.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Books & Writing - The Journey of Eleven Moons

In 1993 I made my very first attempt at novel writing. It was a real challenge and I remember feeling like I was blindly feeling my way through each chapter. Even so, it was more fun than I had imagined. 

The process was filled with wonderment. It was amazing to discover the story and become deeply acquainted with the characters . . . and to care about them. I'd never experienced anything like it. I laughed while I wrote. I found myself exhausted and out of breath when I finished some of the scenes. And I cried my way through others. It was the most surprising and amazing experience. Each day I could barely wait to get back to the story.

Ten months after beginning I had a completed manuscript. It felt like a miracle. But now the nerves set in. I'd promised myself I'd present it to an editor at the OCW Summer Conference that year. I barely dredged up the courage, but I did manage to share the story with two editors. A few months following that meeting the book sold to Thomas Nelson Publishing and I was astounded and thrilled when it made the CBA bestsellers list soon after being released.

Years later, with lots more writing experience under my belt, I reread the book. I still loved the story but the writing needed polishing and I could see gaps in the story where new scenes would be helpful. I longed to go back and rework it. But there never seemed to be time.

Years passed, twenty actually. Finally this year I had the opportunity to revise The Journey of Eleven Moons. I jumped in and went to work. It was more difficult than I had anticipated, but when I had the rewrite completed I thought I'd be heading out on my own to present the new and improved book. That's when my good friends and colleagues Sherrie Ashcraft and Christina Tarabochia casually mentioned that their publishing company, Ashberry Lane, might be interested in the book.

Soon we had a contract and a plan. I was ecstatic and so were they. Christina dove in and lent her expert editorial skills to the project, bringing even more life to the story. The next step - a search for the perfect cover. Christina had photographer Ashlee Murr and cover designer Nicole Miller set up . . . we just needed the right model. 

I love it when God steps in and leads us down a path of His choosing. Christina and I both agreed to pray and see what God had to say to us about models. That's when Sherrie suggested a young woman she knew - Maria Aguillon. I looked at a few photos and thought she was perfect. Christina made the call and she said, "Yes." Whoo Hoo! Then seemingly out of the blue, Christina's daughter's face popped into her mind. Lili would make a perfect Iya. 

The photo shoot was done (you can go to my Facebook page at to see photos). The cover was created while Christina and I worked hard on edits. The book is nearly ready and I'm over the moon at the results. I absolutely love the cover and the story shines. People are going to love it. Anyway I hope so. I do.

The book will be available in mid-November (that's only 3 weeks) at and I hope you'll give it a first or even second read. It's a fabulous story, even if I do say so myself.  :-)

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, October 21, 2013

Quiet Moments With God - Answered Prayer

Polls say that most Americans pray on a regular basis. If we believe in a God who created the universe and all living creatures with just a word we must also believe that He is wise enough and powerful enough to answer our prayers.

In light of that, what kind of prayers do we offer up? The Lord's Prayer from Matthew 5: 3-10 is a good example to follow and on another post I'd like to have that discussion, but not today. So let's just say for now that we should pray whatever is on our heart. God says we can pray whatever we want, but the results are up to Him.

Do we trust Him? Or are do we demand that He answer the way we expect? And when He doesn't how do we respond? Are we disappointed? That's okay.  Are we frightened? Maybe. We might be angry. God understands. 

My guess is that we've all experienced an assortment of negative feelings to what we see as unanswered prayer. But there are no unanswered prayers. God always answers. He says, "Yes. No. And wait."  

We need to make peace with the truth that His plans are often not the same as ours. And that His answers come from His greater knowledge of circumstances. He knows the whole story. I think scriptures like Matthew 7:9 (You parents - If your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?) can be taken out of context. And we are convinced that we will get whatever we ask for.

The Lord does not give stones - that is true. He gives us what is best, even when it means we will be disappointed. Did you ever ask your grandparents for something you knew wasn't good for you, like a second dessert? And you were told you could eat all you wanted. Your dad cautioned there could be consequences like a belly ache, but you wanted more so you had more. I've had a few stomach aches in my life because I've overindulged. I should have listened to my Father. I know that is over simplified, but it does make the point. 

Is it possible that we are missing God's answer to a prayer because we haven't considered any other answer than the one we expect? 

All God asks is that we pray in faith, believing in His ability to do what we ask, and yet to trust in His answer. He is the only one who knows the beginning and the end of all things. And He does great things through people of faith with willing hearts.

Is He asking you to trust even though His answer is not what you hoped for? Believe and grab hold of His hand. He'll hold on tight.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Friday, October 11, 2013

The Journey - Edits

I'm in the midst of final edits on my newly revised and updated book, The Journey of Eleven Moons. I have a deadline and so there is little time for blogging this week. I just wanted to stop by and say hello. I'm having a great time working on this book! It is such a good story. 

I will be sharing more with you soon. The idea of reworking this story has been on my heart for many years and so it is especially exciting to be so close to releasing the revised Journey of Eleven Moons, which is truly a huge cog in my personal journey as a writer. This book holds a special place in my heart. It was my very first novel and the story originated with my ancestors, the Aleuts (more on that later).

So, I'm off to do  some editing and I will be back next week. Have a beautiful day!

Grace and peace to you from God,


Sunday, October 06, 2013

Quiet Moments With God - Fight

Do you remember the movie, Rocky? It had some great messages about perseverance and fighting for what matters. 

Sometimes we're like Rocky Balboa. We have to go after what we want. We have to fight for joy. Fight to experience the goodness of life. 

This morning (Sunday) I crawled out of bed and I felt like anything but fighting for my life. I just wanted to pull the blankets up over my head and return to the oblivion of sleep. I was still tired. My throat hurt. My body ached. And my back . . . well I don't even want to go there. My special husband got me a cup of coffee and I curled up with a blanket and a heating pad. I wasn't going anywhere - no church - no time with Mom.

About an hour later, I convinced myself to at least shower. Maybe it would make me feel better. 

I think the Holy Spirit encouraged me to get up off the sofa because when I stepped out of the shower I did feel better. I hurried, as much as I am able, to get dressed. I was running late if I wanted to make church. I finished putting on some makeup, but I still needed to blow dry my hair. I was never going to make it on time. My husband headed out saying he'd save a seat for me in church. (He and I planned to go in different ways after the service, so separate cars.)

I managed to arrive about ten minutes late, but not too late for God. I was already thankful I hadn't pulled the blankets up over my head. The worship and teaching blessed me. And I could barely feel my sore throat and aching body. I think the joy chased them right out of me.

After the service ended, my husband set out to take care of some business and I headed for the store. I had to do some shopping. When I had that completed I joined my mother at Oak Park, where she lives. Together, we joined other residents for the worship service held in the fireside room. The music reached right into my heart and eased the tensions of life. And God's Word soothed the longing in my spirit. 

Afterward, Mom and I watched a fun movie together and then I joined my husband for dinner out.

What had begun as a horrible, awful day became a thing of beauty and blessing. And I nearly missed it. If I hadn't listened to the voice of the Holy Spirit when he nudged me I'd have spent the day feeling miserable at home. Thank you, Holy Spirit!

How many beautiful blessings have I missed because it seemed simpler to do the "easy" thing. The enemy tries to convince us that church fellowship isn't that important. He tells us that worship and the teaching of the Word isn't that big a deal. And why see family today? There is always tomorrow. 

Is there? How do we know? Today might be the only day - a chance to fill up our souls with love and goodness or to fill up someone elses.

Today wasn't the first time I've had to fight to keep moving, keep living. Each morning I do battle. And I fight on. I urge you to fight for life's joys and unexpected surprises. Don't miss out!

Grace and peace to you from God,


Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Today's Thoughts - Let's Link Arms

This morning a dear friend of mine posted reasonable fears and frustrations about her job and lack of income because she works for the government, and beginning today she would have to work without pay. In her Facebook post she included the political party she blamed for the shut down. As you can guess, her timeline lit up with responses. Her page was hijacked and I was one of the hijackers. I feel badly about doing that and decided if I wanted to post my thoughts I should do so on my own site.

So, this is how I feel about the government shut down and the Affordable Care Act.

As I watch all the finger pointing name calling I feel sick. I do not think this is one political party's or one person's or even one president's fault. We want to blame someone because we don't want to accept any of the blame, but we're all in this together. America is, after all, about We the People. At least we used to be. 

We are responsible to educate ourselves on the issues of the day and to vote with our minds and our hearts. One or the other alone is not enough - we need both sound thinking and compassion.

I am a Republican, but that does not mean I agree with everything the Republican party does. Nor am I against everything the Democrat party does. I am for the American people. 

Years ago while writing the Sowers Trilogy I was impressed by the people of the United States who lived through the 1930's Great Depression. The people of the time weren't perfect, they were just people which means we're full of self. But as I read through historical accounts of those days I saw heroism, courage and neighborliness. Most did not shirk their duties. Most reached out to others in need. Americans pulled together to survive. 

How far we have fallen.

Today, too many of us are dependent on our government. We tear one another apart. We refuse to be accountable for our actions. And so many of us are far from God. We've forgotten or never knew what it feels like to walk with Him, to take His hand, listen to His words of wisdom and make that love and wisdom part of who we are. 

We were better once.

I want our leaders to remember why they lead. Leadership is not about self. It's about serving others. Those folks in Washington DC are supposed to have America's best interests at heart. They are not there just to get re-elected. They are not there to wield power. The greatest man who ever walked this earth was a servant. 

I plead with our leaders to remember where they've come from and who they serve and why.

The other big change in the news is the Affordable Care Act. I'm not a supporter of this bill. 

I do not want to see socialized medicine here in the United States. It sounds good, but in the long run people receive lower quality care and there will be fewer doctors, which means there will be long waits for care. We don't have to look far to see how it does NOT work. So, what do we do? Too many Americans are going without the medical help they need.

I'm convinced that if the people of our nation would work together our brilliant minds could come up with a solution. There is so much more power in arms that are linked than in arms that are folded across arrogant chests. 

What happened to our volunteers?  So many holes could be filled by those willing to give away a little of their time. There are gifted doctors, nurses, dentists who have time to give. Retirees volunteer in all sorts of positions, why not contribute some of that time to those who can't afford to pay for medical or dental care? Or those who just need someone who cares?

And Americans, what happened to personal responsibility? If I receive services from a care giver I need to be responsible and pay for those services, even if it means I go out to dinner or a movie less often. Or give up my satellite television or my smart phone. I'm responsible to pay. Not my neighbor, not my government - me.

I'm going to apologize to my friend for joining the crowd on her Facebook page and refrain from jumping in anywhere else. And I welcome comments and ideas here. 

But if you name call or use profanity I will delete your comment.

We can be better. Believe it. I pray Americans will spread around lots of love and a lot less venom.

Grace and peace to you from God,