Still Dealing with Fear by Louise M. Gouge

We fiction writers enjoy making life difficult for our characters. Without some sort of struggle, some conflict, we would have no plot. E. M. Forster said, “‘The king died and then the queen died’ is a story. ‘The king died, and then the queen died of grief’ is a plot.” (Emphasis mine.)

Death_of_a_king._Oil_painting_by_E_L_Musso_(-)._Wellcome_V0017609

Because grief caused the queen’s death, we know she deeply loved her husband, and we want to know the rest of their story. How did they reach this point? Was this the ultimate end of Cinderella’s happily-ever-after? While sad, it would touch our hearts because, ultimately, we all want to love and be loved by a very special person.

(Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Without a similarly compelling plot, our stories won’t attract many readers. But what about our real lives? What do people read in my “story”?

Tuesday morning, I was facing some conflicts not of my own making. My computer had died the night before, and I couldn’t replace it soon enough to meet some writing deadlines, including this blog. Much more important…and worse, my husband had an appointment with his radiation doctor to discuss the results of his latest PET scan and x-rays to see what those spots were on the remaining third of his right lung. Had his cancer returned? Was more surgery in his future? Didn’t this mean the results were bad news? The doctor had called us in for a reason. Wouldn’t good news simply be delivered over the phone?

As with the hurricane I wrote about last month, I chose to affirm my trust in the LordDavid & Louise in front of cake table that He has all things under control. Yet I still (again) had a hard time sleeping as various scenarios played in my mind. In the dark of night, doom and gloom seemed to loom over me. Like the queen mentioned above, I would surely die of grief if the prognosis was bad. My beloved husband of fifty-two years is dealing with his second bout of cancer. I don’t want to lose him. (David and I at our 50th wedding anniversary party.)

So how will my story read to those who watch me face these uncertainties?

Let’s face it. Bad stuff happens. Christians are not immune to tragedy, and we experience grief. Christians are among those whose lives were shattered, even lost, during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the wildfires in California, and the earthquake in Mexico. I am no expert on handling grief, and I would never try to school those people suffering those tragedies. But I do know that trusting the Lord is a choice. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes not.

And sometimes, when I’ve worried myself to distraction over possible tragedies, I’ve been surprised. So…I may have to temporarily do without a computer, my most necessary work tool for both writing and researching. So…my husband may have a serious problem requiring yet another surgery. Worry doesn’t change what will be. Worrying only makes me miserable and possibly sick, which will make it harder for me to care for him.

And what if there is a different outcome and all is well? I’ve wasted all my time with worry and made myself sick over nothing.

This time, for me, both situations turned out much better than expected. The doctor had only wanted to show us in person the results of the PET scan and x-rays, confirm that things were looking good overall, and ask if we had any questions or concerns. He’ll schedule a follow-up scan next month and will continue to monitor the former site of cancer.

Computer w TiggerAnd what about my computer, whose screen had gone to black the night before and nothing I did could bring it back? After returning home from the doctor’s office, I planned to call the manufacturer with my warranty information, but decided to try one more time to get it to work. I pushed the button, and it came up as if nothing had been wrong. A miracle? Maybe. All I know is that it’s functioning just fine now, and I’ve been able to write this blog. (The furry golden mass in front of my computer is Tigger the cat, who likes to help me with my writing.)

Conclusion? I lost sleep for nothing. Even if both situations had turned out badly, worry and anxiety wouldn’t have changed them.

As the Apostle Paul says, “Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 KJV

So the lesson for me in this and to go deeper in my trust in my Heavenly Father. And let His peace fill me.

That is the story of my life I want other people to read.

SaveSave

SaveSave

Advertisements
Posted in Louise M. Gouge, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Swinging on Fish Hooks by Julie Arduini

Don’t you love those little a-ha moments God gives? Or if you’re like me, sometimes they are more like ahem. I tend to listen to a sermon or read a devotion and think how the material would be perfect for so-and-so. The reality is, the person who needs to receive and apply the information is me.

Our Sunday School class is studying James via a DVD study from Francis Chan. During the discussion we talked about temptation. The video session talked about lures and bait, fishing terms I’m familiar with. But temptation?

My mind wandered with the people I know struggling with it. And failing.

Then a scene came to mind. My kids, and okay, even my husband, find Spongebob Squarepants funny. I’ve seen many episodes and although I’m not the hardcore fan they are, one episode played out the temptation visual to perfection.

Spongebob lives in Bikini Bottom, so he’s surrounded by water. One day he found a hook. His boss, Mr. Krabs, told him to never go near the hooks. They look like fun, but they are death. The exact message Francis Chan was sharing about temptation.

Spongebob and Patrick come across another hook and the temptation is too much. Why would Mr. Krabs want them to stay away from a fun swing? Next thing you know they are on those hooks 24/7. They are so much entertainment Spongebob is missing work, and his job is very important to him. Mr. Krabs warns them, but they won’t stay away.

And then the hook grabs them and starts pulling them toward land.

What was great fun suddenly became a weapon of death.

Still, the memory didn’t seem personal. I’m a positive person who doesn’t struggle with language, gambling, or alcohol. God has done such a work through Christ in me with all these things and more.

Then yesterday hit. I had a lot of tasks around the house to accomplish and I took on more than I should have. When I am tired, I become vulnerable. When I have too much going on, I look for quick fixes.

Yesterday transitioned to a day starting with protein and exercise to a glance at a loaf of Italian bread set aside for dinner. I typically don’t eat bread. By dinner, I still didn’t eat bread.

I inhaled it.

It wasn’t just one piece or even two. It was probably four or five. Followed by more chocolate than I’ve probably had in months.

I didn’t just take the bait, I went swinging on hooks.

You might think that it was a harmless carb load, and for most people, you’d be right. Me? It is a descent into a lifestyle that leaves me even more tired, sick, depressed, and in need of bigger clothes. I have insulin resistance so the last thing I need is more sugar.

But, it’s the first thing I usually go to when I’m tempted.

Today I started the day in God’s word and this time I looked through the eyes of someone who needs to learn, not who else this might apply to. I’m trying to approach my choices through spirit led decisions, not my proud, fleshy ones.

How about you? Is temptation an issue for you? What helps you overcome or steer clear of it?
Here’s a YouTube snippet showing how easy it is to fall into temptation. SpongeBob Squarepants is a product of Nickelodeon/Viacom.

Posted in Julie Arduini | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Camping…

campfire-2438430__340

If you’d asked me a few years back about camping, I would have told you it wasn’t for me. But that was before my husband and I bought our camper.

Now, there’s just something about sitting outside in front of a blazing campfire with a sky full of stars that makes you feel closer to God. His majesty and beauty is all around.

fairyland-canyon-1632749__340

We’ve gone camping in several different places since we bought the camper with good friends and our granddaughter and each time that I look up at the night sky I am reminded of Isaiah 40:26

Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.

So the next time you find yourself outside at night, look up! God’s majesty awaits…

All the best…

Mary Alford

http://www.maryalford.net

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Heartwarming Holiday Wishes by Tara Randel

Here was are in mid-October and already the countdown to Christmas has begun. Festive decorations are filling the stores and we’re in the last stretch of 2017. So what better time to announce the release of Heartwarming Holiday Wishes, 10 sweet, romantic novellas by USA Today and bestselling authors. Visit the wonderful folks of Christmas Town and enjoy the magic of Christmas. This year, a stocking brings a special holiday wish to each story. And the best part? The collection is only 99 cents!

In my story, The Christmas Window, widow CeCe Walker has her hands full taking care of her nephew and staging the holiday window decorations at Dockery’s Department store. The last thing she’s looking for is romance. Jace Keller is in Christmas Town to check out the window featuring his new sportswear line. Sparks fly when the two are at odds over his display, but with a little holiday magic, can this couple find love for Christmas?

The Christmas Window_Tara Randel (421x640)

Here’s an excerpt:

“I wasn’t going to come,” she said, her voice so low he had to lean closer to hear her.

“Why is that?”

She met his gaze. He was surprised by the depth of sorrow there. “Have you ever been married?”

He hadn’t expected that question. “Once. Divorced.”

She nodded. Her throat worked as if she was trying to work up the words she wanted to say. “My husband and I used to come here all the time when we were younger.”

He pulled back. “You’re married?”

“Widow.” Her voice caught as she said the word.

Ah. That explained so much. “I’m sorry.”

She nodded. Kept staring over the meadow. Something moved in the distance. A deer?

“Have you thought about starting over?” she asked.

“Thought about it. Never actually tried.”

“Mind my asking why?”

He leaned closer again as the wind picked up in a swirling gust. Leaves tumbled over the dry grass. “I was busy building the business. After the emotional mess that ended the marriage, I never took the time to consider a serious connection. And when I did look, no one caught my fancy.”

“So you aren’t interested in settling down?”

“I wasn’t.” He paused. Took a chance. His gloved fingers tilted her chin up so she met his gaze. “Until now.”

Moving slowly, he lowered his head. She didn’t move an inch. Barely breathing, he brushed his lips over hers. Once. Twice. Waiting for her to pull back or take off running.

One of her hands rested against his chest. The air misted between them. He kissed her again, his chest tight, his heart pounding in his ears.

She broke the kiss and shook her head, her hand covering her mouth. “I… This shouldn’t happen.”

Confusion and fear contorted her face. He knew the answer, but asked anyway. “Why not?”

Her gaze flew to his and her hand dropped. “It just shouldn’t,” she whispered.

“Because you don’t want my kiss or because you don’t want to admit you’ve thought about it?”

I hope you get caught up in this new heartwarming collection this year. If you fall in love with the folks of Christmas Town, stop by our website: www.heartwarmingchristmastown.com. Here you’ll find everything relating to Christmas Town, including character descriptions from previous books, blogs, freebies and more.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Heartwarming Holiday Wishes 3D (640x426)

Amazon

iTunes

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Click here to receive Tara’s Newsletter.

Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of fifteen novels. Family values, a bit of mystery and, of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Look for her next Harlequin Heartwarming romance, HIS ONE AND ONLY BRIDE, available January 2018.  Visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at Tara Randel Books

Posted in Tara Randel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Emotional Life of a Writer

by Jim Denney

To me, writing is not so much a mental activity as an emotional activity. When I’m writing well, I’m not thinking about the words — I’m feeling the emotions, and those emotions pour out of me in the form of words spilling onto a page.

I wrote my Timebenders science fantasy series for middle grade readers from the fall of 2001 to the spring of 2002. I had just finished the first book in the series, Battle Before Time, and was about to start the second book when something horrible happened: the terror attacks of 9/11. That event cast a pall on my emotions that was far deeper than I realized at the time. Some of my writer friends stopped writing for weeks after the tragedy. I was on a tight deadline, so I had to keep writing.

I finished the first draft of the second book, titled Doorway to Doom, in January 2002. After I finished the draft, I went back, read it through, and made a startling discovery. More than half of the book took place in darkness — in a dungeon, in caverns, in catacombs, in a forest at night. The book was very, very dark, because I had written it in a time of dark emotions.

Jyrki Salmi - Jackdaw Alder Grove

“The Dark Forest Ranger,” a jackdaw in a dark alder grove, photo by Jyrki Salmi of Finland, used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic License.

I had to go back and rewrite the book, cutting out much of the darkness and writing in more scenes of light. By the time I had finished the third and final draft, I was very happy with the book, and especially its balance of moods. It remains my favorite entry in the series. In fact, I think my dark mood during the initial writing phase deepened the emotional intensity of the story. The final rewrite lightened the mood just enough, and gave it an emotional ebb and flow — from darkness to light, from fear to faith, from gloom to hope.

Though I love to write, I don’t enjoy writing when I feel gloomy or angry or sad. I have found that it’s important, as a writer, to have peace and joy in my relationships — both my relationship with God and my relationships with other people. Conflict and emotional upheaval interfere with my judgment, making it hard for me to know whether something I’ve written is good or bad.

We don’t always have the luxury of choosing our emotional state. Whether my emotions are in a good place or a dark place, I must keep writing. What do I do, then, when I’m in a dark emotional state?

The only thing that gets me through a dark place in my writing career is prayer.

I say, “Lord, please take these emotions out of my way. You know what needs to be written. I don’t feel I can write it today. Please come and write it through me. Silence the noise and distractions, shine Your light into my darkness, and give me Your peace that passes understanding.”

Then I look at my screen, think about what I want to express, and wait for God to answer my prayer. His answer always comes.

And as the sentences start to fill the screen, I quickly and quietly say, “Thank You, Lord.”

___________________________________

Note: Battle Before Time, the first book in my newly revised and updated Timebenders series for young readers, has just been released in paperback. Find it at Amazon.com.J.D.

 

Posted in Jim Denney, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Weed or a Wildflower

A Weed or a Wildflower

By Margaret Daley

One of my granddaughters got me to think about how we look at things means everything. I know I should already realize that, but it was something she said to me that made me stop and really think about a person’s outlook could make all the difference in the world.

We were driving back to her house.  I saw a field carpeted in purple and said, “Look at that. Isn’t that beautiful?”

Joe Pye Weed Wild Flowers (Eutrochium)

Joe-Pye Weed wild flowers, Eutrochium, growing in a field

“They’re weeds, Grandma Margaret,” she said.

“Some people call them weeds, but others call them wildflowers.”

“Really?”

“Yep,” I said.

Later as I mulled over what I’d said to my granddaughter, I realized how important it was to look at something in a positive light—a favorable one. We don’t like weeds, but flowers are one of the things that add beauty to our lives. What I am going to strive to do is to look at a field full of wildflowers, not one full of weeds. I think I will be better off looking at the positive, not the negative, and every time I see a wildflower I will be reminded of that.

How do you see a field (or your lawn), especially in the springtime? Is it full of weeds or wildflowers?

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Peace that surpasses understanding

Moonlit oceanI recently had the privilege of visiting a fellow writer who was in the last stages of her life. I call it a privilege because she was such a graceful example of someone finishing well. Although her life was filled with some extraordinary challenges, in the last years of her relatively short life it was apparent to everyone who knew her that she loved the Lord. She claimed the promises of the Bible and used the various talents God gave her to glorify Him.

What strikes me the most as I dwell upon my friend’s life was that every mistake, disappointment or heartache she dealt with as a much younger woman were entirely forgotten after realizing God had given her a new identity as a child of His. Because of such a transformation, she knew she was already a resident of heaven and was simply waiting to take that final step.

In light of that it was beyond comforting to witness the kind of peace only someone so certain of her destination can have. It was the kind of experience that will no doubt stay with me, because she so vividly acted out her faith in a way every Christian hopes to do. Not only was she was an example to me, but to other friends and family, doctors and nurses and hospice staff as well—truly a wonderful legacy!

We’re left to celebrate the blessed lives of such people, and look forward to the day we’ll see them again. Truly, God is the Great Comforter, isn’t He?

Posted in Maureen Lang, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Give Yourself a Break by Hannah Alexander

I don’t know about you, but sometimes the stressors of life can really overwhelm me. The bright side is that this does result in my drawing closer to God. Sometimes, however, it seems that I get hit harder from every side simply because I have drawn closer to Him.

This is one of those times. Instead of boring you with details, I’ll put it all in a book someday.  But today I’m offering you a break and a chance to bury your nose in a kindle book for only 99 cents. If you’re not a Hannah Alexander reader, here’s your chance to check out a new author. If you are already a Hannah Alexander reader, bless you! I’m working on the rewrites for The Wedding Kiss. See you soon!

http://amzn.to/2yDTXuC

 

Posted in Hannah Alexander | Tagged | Leave a comment

By Birth or By Choice by Nancy J. Farrier

 

20150822_122058

On a recenttrip, I stopped by a store to pick up a couple of items. When I came out, Inoticed a rather scruffy gentleman walking toward me. He needed a shave, his clothes wereworn and appeared unwashed and his hair shaggy and unkempt. His demeanor was that of some of the homeless our church ministers to, but I don’t know that he was homeless.

As he approached, I noticed his black t-shirt had writing. The slogan read:

Genius by Birth

Slacker by Choice

At first, I scoffed inside as I continued on to my car. But, as I drove away, I couldn’t help pondering those words and the truth therein. What am I by birth? What have my choices shown me or shown others about me?

Growing up, I attended church with my parents, but as a young adult, I turned my back on God, my parents, and the church. That decision, or choice, had some far-reaching consequences. Some painful consequences. So, for that part of my life my slogan might read:

Sinner by Birth

Rebel by Choice

When the results of my rebellion brought me to my knees long enough for me to hear God’s call and surrender to Him, I still had a difficult time. Those early decisions clouded my judgement and I had to learn a whole new lifestyle—one that pleased God.

Often my human nature took over—and still takes over—so that my actions didn’t reflect Jesus the way I wanted them to. Perhaps then my slogan should read:

Christian by Re-Birth

Changing by Choice

So many of our choices effect the path our life takes. Think about the following that I’ve experienced or been told.

Overweight by Choice – But I have a slower metabolism. I don’t eat a lot, but I gain weight easily. This isn’t my fault. Isn’t it? I could make choices of diet and exercise to offset that slow metabolism and maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Cantankerous by Choice – I can’t help the way my attitude is. My whole family is this way. It’s passed down and there is nothing I can do. (This is something someone said to me about themselves. Another Christian.) I wanted to say, “What family are you taking after? Your earthly family or God?”

Gossip by Choice – I grew up in a family who did nothing but gossip about others. It comes naturally to me and I can’t help myself. Besides, I’m letting you know about that person so you will know how to pray for them. Right?

Or, what about these—

Forgiving by Choice – You said or did hurtful things to my or to someone I love, but because God forgives me, I forgive you.

Kind by Choice – I could walk on by and ignore the fact that you need help. It would be easy to do, as if I don’t even notice you there. But, I choose to take a chance, be a little late, and help you with what you need, even if that means putting your groceries in your car, or simply saying an encouraging word.

Loving by Choice – When others are rude, or constantly rebuff any attempts to show them love, I can still choose to love them. How many times did I push God away, yet He still called my name and waited patiently for me to come to Him.

I want others to look at me and see that my slogan must read:

Christian by Re-Birth

Christ like by Choice

“. . . Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. . . as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15 NKJV

 

 

 

Posted in Nancy J. Farrier | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

When I Write, I Feel His Smile by Elizabeth Goddard

Recently, I was getting ready for church, staring at my makeup mirror to paint my face, listening to worship music. One particular song opened up my soul and inspired my heart with great love and adoration for Him–worship in its truest form. I can’t ever truly show Him how much I love him–but He knows, and it’s not nearly as much as He loves me.

I found myself wishing I could sing like the woman belting out the notes in the worship song. I’ve always wished I could sing and be part of a worship band. I pictured myself singing to the Lord.

At that moment, I knew I had His ear, so I asked Him, “Why didn’t you make me a singer, Lord? I would be singing about you and to you constantly. All the time I’d be worshipping you. For that matter, why didn’t you make me a dancer? I’d love to dance for you.”

A voice like a gentle breeze blew across my heart. “I made you a writer.”

Oh my.

Oh my.

Of course. Of course you made me a writer and I AM writing about you all the time. You made me a prolific writer. I can’t describe the joy that filled my heart. A renewed sense that I’m right where I’m supposed to be in Him, and He is using me for His purposes. There is no greater pleasure than that.

I finished getting ready and headed over to the church. (We live in a parsonage next door) Snatched up a devotional booklet–admittedly something I never do. As I sat in the pew, I thought about how I never read those devotionals so there must be something in there for me today since I grabbed one. I turned to the dated devotional and sure enough, I found these words. “My writing is a form of worship.”

Leave it to the Lord to confirm His words to me.

God: I made you a writer . . . 

Me: I can feel you smile when I write . . . 

Remember, friend, God made you for a purpose. There’s no greater joy than fulfilling His purposes.

Some of you can remember the inspiring movie, Chariots of Fire–the story of runner Eric Liddell who ran for the glory of God.

He said this, “When I run, I feel his Pleasure.”

Watch the clip and be inspired.

 

 

__

Elizabeth Goddard is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than thirty romantic suspense  novels and counting.

Read her latest release, Double ExposureDouble Exposure Final“You will feel God working throughout this whole book.” — Amazon Reviewer

Posted in Elizabeth Goddard, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Oh, Those Bridges

Along with my daughter, I made a trip to northern Iowa to visit family. I’ve traveled I-35 South many a time coming home from the Amana Colonies. On each of my many trips, I’ve seen the signs to stop and visit the Bridges of Madison County as well as the John Wayne home in Winterset, Iowa. Until yesterday, I’d never taken the time to stop. And though cloudy, the sun popped out often enough that I thought the forecasters were wrong about those terrible thunderstorms they had promised and I didn’t worry too much about racing toward home. When the exit number appeared, we turned off and didn’t have to go far before we caught sight of the first covered bridge. It’s called the Imes Bridge and was constructed in 1870 and it is situated at the outskirts of St. Charles, Iowa.

We stopped at the old Presbyterian Church which is now a visitor center and picked up a map in order to locate the remaining five bridges. Now, for those of you who know me, that map was pretty useless. And I have to tell you—my daughter has inherited my sense of direction which means we both get lost trying to fight our way out of a paper bag. Still, we felt adventurous and, map in hand, drove down the highway while scoffing at the fellow who’d told us it would take a couple of hours to visit all six covered bridges. A couple of hours? We giggled and agreed it couldn’t take more than forty-five minutes—an hour at most.

On our way to Winterset, we missed the turnoff for the Holliwell Covered Bridge, but vowed we’d catch it on the way back. (Needless to say, we never found that road again). We finally drove into Winterset where one of the bridges was supposedly located in a park. When we didn’t immediately find it after circling the town several times, we stopped for a photo-op at the John Wayne statue and also took a picture of his home. Once again, we circled the town and then decided to stop and asked directions—the map was no help. Soon we arrived at the park and located the Cutler-Donahoe Bridge which was constructed in 1870 (same as the Imes). While there, we saw a sign pointing up a road to “Clark’s Tower or King’s Castle.” Need I say more? We couldn’t pass up a castle.

The road was narrow, winding and far higher than we’d anticipated, but we finally made it. Although a bit small to be called a castle, we were impressed to find it sitting up there all by itself and both of us climbed to the top of the tower for a look around. With trees in bloom during the spring or fall, I’m sure the view is amazing. Once we made the downward ascent, we stopped at the Cedar Bridge, since it’s the only one you can actually drive through. Although it was constructed in 1883, it was destroyed by arson in 2002 and a replica was dedicated on October 9, 2004.

By this time, we’d used up more than two hours and decided our scoffing had been misplaced. We also decided we weren’t going to make it to the remaining three bridges. We didn’t see Roseman Bridge which was the bridge used in the movie, The Bridges of Madison County, but we get a picture of the rock bridge that was in the film. After stopping at a grocery store for yet more directions on how to get back to the highway, we headed off to I-35. You’ll remember I mentioned thunderstorms had been forecast. Well, we ran straight into a horrific thunderstorm. I couldn’t see a car length in front of me for a period of time, and then we were held up in traffic TWO times due to accidents. It was a very long trip home, but I’m glad we took time to visit the bridges and take pictures with “The Duke.”

May you find joy as you take time to experience a piece of history and the beauty of God’s creation. ~Judy

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Bring your Bible…and your Faith

Old BibleToday is Bring Your Bible to School Day. Sponsored by Focus on the Family, this movement began in 2014 with eight thousand students. Last year 356,000 students participated. At their website, www.Bringyourbible.org, parents and students can learn how to join in, how students and teachers can legally share their faith, and how they can let their light shine in this dark world. According to the commercial I just saw on television, the theme song for the day is “This light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.” The website also has helpful, fun videos to emphasize the movement.

The courageous young Christians who participate today and who carry their Light every day give me hope for the future of our nation and our world. In today’s anti-Christian culture, I recall that it sure was easier to be a “public” Christian when I was in school a hundred years ago. (Just kidding. It was only 55 years ago.)

As I considered and prayed for today’s event, I realized how the principles the participants champion should also apply to my writing life. But we fiction writers work alone for the most part, so how can I let my light shine as I sit here by myself in my office at home? Here’s an idea:

John Jakes, bestselling author of North and South, says: “Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.”

So, who am I? What do I believe? As a Christian, I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and only Savior of the world (the “world” includes me). Psalm 27 says, “The Lord is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?”

Therefore, according to Jakes’s principle, I should create my stories with the purpose of showing readers how the Lord Jesus Christ can become their Light. Through faith in Him, I have eternal life in heaven, and I have found peace and contentment in the here and now. Now I want to share my faith with others through my writing.

Does that mean that my stories should be filled with characters who preach the Gospel in every other paragraph? Who speak “christianeze,” terms that only churchgoers find familiar? Probably not. Anything that sounds like “my way is better than your way” isn’t going to win anyone to Christ, and it certainly isn’t going to win any fans to my work. No soul is ever saved through beating a person over the head with a Bible. Like the students who are carrying their Bibles to school today, I need be real. I need to speak naturally through my written words, through my characters, to show my readers that Jesus is real and relevant today.

Author Cheryl St. John once told me, “The whole faith element comes completely through my characters’ viewpoints, behaviors, their beliefs and faith, and their trust in God.” Best-selling author DiAnn Mills says, “Inspirational writing is more about the writer than the book content: you can take the christianeze out of the story, but you can’t take the Christian out of the writer.”

The old writers’ adage, “Show, don’t tell,” can apply to both students living their lives before their classmates and writers who infuse their stories with who they are.

Today I pray for Christian students across this country to have the courage to carry their Bibles to school and to live their faith before their teachers and fellow students. Today as I begin work on my next book, I pray that my words and stories will show people that a life lived with Jesus Christ is the best life possible for now and for eternity.

CLCR CoverIn my current release, Cowboy Lawman’s Christmas Reunion, Justice Gareau tries to live his Christian faith before his former fiancee, despite the heartache she caused him.

Sheriff Justice Gareau can make outlaws quake in their boots…yet coming face-to-face with Evangeline Benoit once again takes away all his composure. She broke their engagement, and his heart, to marry a wealthy older man. Despite his reluctance, Justice can’t avoid the widowed single mother of two when they’re collaborating on a Christmas village for the town’s children.

The loving boy Evangeline once knew has become an unyielding lawman. Forced to flee New Orleans over false allegations, Evie doubts Justice will take her side when the past follows her to Colorado. Especially when he and her troublesome son butt heads. But perhaps the spirit of Christmas will soften his heart and give them a second chance at love.

Copyright © 2017 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited, Cover art and cover copy text used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises. ® and ™ Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Burned Lawns by Julie Arduini

Of all the weather events happening across the country, I know higher than usual temps and a sudden stop to rain isn’t a big deal. However, across northeast Ohio, autumn weather has looked more like summer. In September, there were 11 days that were above average, and I think three were in the 90’s. None of those days had rain.

Where I live, it’s known for the cloud cover. I heard during WWII the area was used for military maneuvers because our weather mimics where planes were headed. To have sun is not only a welcome sight, but a rare one.

To bring the scenario even closer, we live in a development where many residents have companies come in to do their lawn. These are doctors, lawyers, business owners and retirees who are not able to mow and handle landscaping, so they hire it out. We have a son that does a remarkable job, so we rely on him.

I noticed this week one thing about every yard in the development.

All the lawns are burned. In front yards where the sun hits, there is no green grass. It’s a brown, and straw-like. It’s in our yard, it’s in the doctor’s yard. Dead grass covers the retiree’s front lawn just as it does the teacher’s. There’s no escape.

That got me thinking. The sun took a toll, and it didn’t matter the title of the homeowner, their job, or how much they make a year. The wealthiest appearing homeowner has burned grass as much as any other home. There was no sparing or distinction.

blue-682775_960_720When I talk to people or write about Jesus, I make sure everyone understands the sentiment is the same. It doesn’t matter how big the check is we write to charity or how many senior citizens we helped cross the street. It doesn’t matter if you go to church and it is the Main Street Baptist or Main Street Pentecostal. There is one criteria for heaven’s entry.

Do you know Jesus?

When I teach kids or teens, I remind them it isn’t a “know” like they know Ariana Grande or the latest YouTube star. They are aware of those people, but truly do not have a relationship with them. I teach the teens that they need to invite Jesus into their life as a friend. Friends interact. Friends want to know more about each other. Friends are relational.

I’m a visual person and one scene I picture time and time again is a heavenly banquet with Jesus as the guest of honor. I imagine who might sit next to me. Thing is, the Holy Spirit reminded me I will be surprised. It isn’t always the “pretty” people who will be dining with their Savior. The example that often comes to mind is Ted Bundy.

Before his execution, Ted had an interview with Dr. Dobson from Focus on the Family. He shared that his evil acts started with a porn addiction and escalated. He also professed a personal faith in Christ. Now, I’m sure inmates pull that card a lot with no authenticity. But I remember reading that Dr. Dobson found his “walk matched the talk.” If true, Ted could be my banquet neighbor.

The same serial killer has a ticket to heaven as I do for lying and whatever other sins I’ve confessed. Just like the grass after a rain in our development, God’s grace doesn’t just hit one yard. Everyone who calls on His name receives God’s forgiveness and relationship through His Son. And like the blistering sun killing our grass, we all have to answer for that relationship or lack of.

Heavy topic, and I’m certainly not a master in evangelism, but I hope you hear my heart for you today. You know the bad news out there, and I don’t need to tell you things are escalating. I’m not promised tomorrow, and neither are you. If you aren’t sure what your eternal destination were to be if this was your last day, I beg you to ask Jesus into your daily life.

Would you like to know more? Click HERE, or, feel free to contact any of us here at Christians Read. You can find me throughout social media @JulieArduini, or at juliearduini@juliearduini.com

Posted in Julie Arduini, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Being an author can be scary

Criminal with Knife

How many people can say they kill people for a living and get away with it? Well, if you’re a suspense writer, you can. The ability to make up dangerous situations and then throw your main characters headfirst into the action, is both fun and a little scary.

I tell my husband all the time that I hope no one ever takes a serious look at my computer history. They’d see such things as what is the name of a fast acting poison? What’s the best long range weapon for a sniper? What type explosives can bring down a building? Research for writing suspense can take you to some strange places.

Journalism.

And yes, all those things are scary to think about, but there are other parts of writing that are equally frightening. Like sitting down to a blank screen and writing…something. There’s nothing more exciting or daunting than typing those first few words of a book, or trudging through the middle of a story when you’re really not sure where things are going, then finally limping battered and bruised across the finish line to be able to write, “the end”.

Then, just when you think your heart couldn’t possibly take any more excitement, it’s time for the edits. That in itself can be scary because most times your editor is asking you to stretch yourself as a writer in order to make your story the best it can possibly be.

With the edits finished, you can relax, right? Wrong. The book is ready to be released, but what if no one likes it? Just because you wrote it, agonized over every single word in it, doesn’t mean the reader will have the same reaction you did.

So you see, writing can be scary, but let me just say, I wouldn’t trade a second of the terror, the rollercoaster ride of emotion, or the nail biting moments of doubts, for anything else. Because it is a true blessing to be able to say I am an author, scary or not.

framed for murder cover 1

FALSELY ACCUSED 

Framed for helping her partner smuggle guns—and then murdering him—CIA agent Liz Ramirez must find the evidence that will prove her innocence…before she’s caught or killed. So when her squad’s leader attempts to bring her in for questioning, she knows her future depends on convincing Aaron Foster to go rogue and help her. On the run from the rest of her team and the gun dealers who are convinced she knows the location of their missing weapons, Liz risks losing the proof that would clear her name. But will eluding her pursuers—and trying not to fall for the handsome commander—prove to be fatal?

Framed For Murder- available now at Amazon.

All the best…

Mary Alford

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Las Vegas Massacre

The Las Vegas Massacre, Vicki Hinze

Last night, 59 people died and over 515 were injured in a terrorist attack in Las Vegas. Hospitals are overwhelmed, first responders are overwhelmed and people there and distant observers are overwhelmed.

 

Bodies are still being removed, and some are already engaging in political comments. Calls for gun control. Speculation that this attack was against country music so likely Trump supporters, and the poster hoped only “Trumpatards” were shot. Even people who wanted to be leaders like Hillary Clinton, chimed in not with condolences but with talk of imagining the result if the shooter had used a silencer. She meant a suppressor, but everyone knew what she meant. That’s not the point.

 

My reaction was that the first poster, about the ones shot, who incidentally is a teacher, has lost her humanity. My reaction to Mrs. Clinton’s post was that just once I wish she wouldn’t engage politically but as a human being.

 

There’ll be a time and place for political discussions. This isn’t it. Loved ones are trying to get in touch with family and friends to see if they’re safe. Others at a distance are phoning 800 numbers talking to coroners, praying their family members aren’t in the morgue. Phoning hospitals, hoping to find to that any injuries to their family and friends are minor and they’ll recover.

 

This is the time to come together as Americans and support these victims, their families and friends, and the survivors, many of whom crawled and ran for their lives. The shock is deep. The pain fresh. The wounds inside raw.

 

No one is foolish enough to think random shooting into a crowd of thousands was aimed at people of this or that political persuasion. Bullets don’t think. When shot, they kill, wound, maim whatever and whomever they hit. We’ll find out why this happened later, after the investigations are done. We’ll examine events and act accordingly.

 

But for today, keep political nonsense out of it. No matter how well-intentioned, it is an unwelcome intruder. Today, we are focused on shattered lives and shattered hearts. We’re focused on comforting and consoling, on compassion. On prayer for those lost and for those who remain.

 

And if you can’t do that, if you must discuss politics today, then be prepared for a ferocious backlash. Because our collective outrage is strong, our fuses short, and our patience shot.

 

Today, there is only the emotional tidal wave that surges and swamps us when a vile and violent wrong has been committed against anyone. Today, we are acutely aware of the worst and the best in us. We’ve witnessed merciless acts against our people. Merciful acts in the heroes, professional and everyday people, rising to respond to the needs of others before them. And all we have witnessed is the one thing that unites us and supercedes all else. It is in control today.

 

That one thing is, our humanity.

 

May God bless, comfort and console, granting us and our nation the wisdom and strength required to heal.

Vicki Hinze

 

SaveSave

Posted in Vicki Hinze | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments