Meet the Characters in Julie Arduini’s Entrusted

May 20, 2015

EntrustedOne indicator of a good book is that you quickly begin to care for the characters. This is a charming story that will make you laugh, cry, and maybe even shake your head. As the heroine begins her new life in Speculator Falls, New York with a “bang,” she quickly becomes an engaging heroine, and the reader immediately wants her to succeed.

Although the first-person, present tense point of view took a little getting used to for me, a lot of people enjoy the “in-the-now” feeling as they read. The believable, quirky characters and the story with a clear spiritual message made it a very enjoyable read.

In a nutshell: A young woman ventures from her hometown to another state for the first time to live and work. What obstacles and tests of her faith will she encounter, and how will she attack each one? As she tries to encourage others to surrender their fears to the Lord, how does she cope with her own?

Jenna Anderson is a city girl who is clueless about small mountain town living. But one thing she does know is how to care about people.

Ben Regan meets Jenna in a most awkward and unusual circumstance. As the two become acquainted, he sends Jenna mixed signals that have her running through a gamut of emotions.

Sara Bivins, Ben’s grandmother, “village matriarch” becomes like a second mother to Jenna, freely imparting faith and wisdom in her lovingly persuasive manner.

Howard Wheaton is Jenna’s favorite “curmudgeon” at the senior center. She instinctively sees a side of Howard that he tries hard to hide.

Shirley McIlwain is the tenacious volunteer receptionist and self-proclaimed office manager at the senior center, who becomes Jenna’s right hand in organization.

Kyle Swarthmore is an arrogant financial mogul who has ulterior motives for his generosity and a plan to undermine Ben’s hopes to expand his business.

I thoroughly enjoyed the characters in this book which will keep you engaged and wanting to see what happens next. I loved the way Arduini employs humor in her story, and she had me giggling as I read. The characters are well-written and lovable. Well, most of them are lovable. But then antagonists aren’t supposed to be lovable, are they?

If you like easy, fun reads with substance, this one certainly fits the bill.


Julie ArduiniJulie Arduini loves to encourage readers to find freedom in Christ through surrender. She’s the author of the Amazon bestseller, Entrusted and co-author of the international bestseller The Love Boat Bachelor. She also shared her story in the Amazon bestseller infertility devotional, A Walk in the Valley. She’s the fiction contributing editor for the digital magazine, Imaginate, and blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children.

Learn more about Julie by visiting her at http://juliearduini.com.

Connect with her on Facebook: http://facebook.com/JulieArduini,                                                          Twitter: http://twitter.com/JulieArduini,                                                               G+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JulieArduini/posts,                                 Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/JulieArduini,                                        Instagram: http://instagram.com/JulieArduini,                              Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/JulieArduini,                               Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Julie-Arduini/e/B00PBKDRSQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1427852247&sr=8-1

You can purchase her books at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and CBD.com.


No Longer Afraid, A Devotional by Betty Owens

January 29, 2014

Betty OwensI am pleased to welcome Betty Owens to my blog today. Betty is a co-conspirator in the Mara Adkins adventure, A Dozen Apologies, along with ten other very talented authors. More about that later.

December 14th, 2012, I was sitting in a crowded theater. The Hobbit was about to begin. My heart was beating hard and fast––too fast. I had difficulty breathing. I was more afraid than I’d ever been in my life. Was I going to die?

I was having a panic attack. A few minutes into the movie, I left. This was just the beginning. I spiraled into a depression, worse than any I’d ever experienced. Christmas, usually a wonderful family time for me, was an ordeal to be endured. I had to do something.

I didn’t want to go to my family doctor. In the past, he’d put me on medication for depression and told me I would be on it for the rest of my life. I stayed on it for a month, then slowly weaned myself back off. I would not be a slave to medication. I didn’t like how it made me feel.

This time, I was determined to beat it with God’s help. I prayed. I read the Bible. I meditated God’s Word. Though I didn’t always feel like it, I forced myself to take part in fellowship with friends and family.

Throughout all this, a word kept popping into my mind. Electrolytes. I don’t usually like sweet drinks, so Gaterade was not something I wanted to drink––at all. I found one that was less sweet and drank several over the next few days.

Even though it was midwinter, I bundled up and got outside in the sunshine. I went for long, leisurely walks whenever weather permitted. In bad weather, I went to a mall or department store and strolled around. I made an effort to eat right, and drink more water. I took supplements like vitamin D3 and C. I scanned the aisles of our favorite health food store and picked out herbal teas and supplements specifically for depression. Among these, GABA, Tulsi, and Aswagandha.

I began to pray for others. Many of my Facebook friends were going through painful illnesses and losses. I spoke words of encouragement to them and not only promised to pray, I did pray.

Slowly, I began to improve. The days were not so painful. I slept most nights. But I was still afraid. Afraid the depression would never end. Afraid the panic attacks would return. Afraid I would lose control. Then one night, while I was meditating on God’s Word and praying, a scripture dropped into my heart.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (I John 4:18 NKJV)

I was immediately convicted. I had not trusted God with my healing or my future. When I spoke the verse aloud, something happened. The Word established itself in my heart and I was no longer afraid.

Over the next few days and then weeks, each time I felt fear, I focused my mind on this verse. Whenever possible, I spoke it aloud. It always had the same effect: peace. A year has passed. The holidays came and went. There’s been no return of the panic attacks or depression.

Final note: If you suffer from depression, do see your doctor. There may be a physical reason for your pain. Eat better, exercise, and don’t neglect your spirit. Feed your soul and your spirit the Word of God. Meditate in it, day and night. Find a scripture like 1 John 4:18 you can stand on. Go to church, whether you feel like it or not. And don’t whine to everyone who’ll listen about all your troubles. Focus on God. Reach out to help others. Pray for those around you.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, I did finally see The Hobbit.

 

Born in the Pacific Northwest, Betty Owens grew up in such exotic places as West Tennessee and San Diego, California. She presently resides in Kentucky with her husband of thirty-nine mostly good years. They have three grown and married sons living in the area, along with three daughters-in-law, four beautiful granddaughters, and two handsome grandsons.

Though she’d always had an interest in storytelling, her writing career began to take off in 1986. As a busy homeschooling mom, she needed an outlet for all the extra joy in the house. A few years passed, and she had several novel-length manuscripts squirreled away. After self-publishing two fantasy-adventure novels, she attended a Christian writers’ conference in Kentucky then later joined American Christian Fiction Writers, hoping to learn more about the craft of writing.

Now semiretired, Betty spends most of her time writing and studying about writing, critiquing other peoples’ writing, and caring for her mini-schnauzer granddog.

She can also be found here:

Facebook
Facebook Author Page
Twitter
Website: http://www.bettythomasonowens.com
http://www.writingpromptsthoughtsideas.wordpress.com

Betty most recently contributed to the collaborative novel A Dozen Apologies, which will be released as an ebook on Valentine’s Day. If you’d like to join the fun, visit http://writeintegrity.blogspot.com/.  Not only will you be able to get a head start on reading it, you will be able to vote on your favorite hero. Then the entire ebook will be offered free Valentine’s Day weekend, so you can see if your favorite guy gets the girl!

Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up. In college, she and herA Dozen Apologies sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better.

Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job that she ever thought possible.

Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.


Who’s Behind All This? An Interview With Publisher Tracy Ruckman

January 24, 2014

Tracy Ruckman HeadshotIt is my distinct pleasure to welcome Tracy Ruckman to my blog today. As you read her interview, you will discover that God is the One behind (and ahead) of all the great things happening at Write Ingetrity Press. Thank you so much for visiting us today, Tracy.

Tracy, how long have you been writing yourself, and what piqued your interest in the craft?

In the mid-1980s, I wrote a letter to the editor of a Baptist Young Women’s magazine. For a year, nothing came of it. Then I received a letter apologizing for the delay, saying the letter had been lost, and that they liked it so much they wanted to pay me to use it as an article instead of a letter. I agreed (who wouldn’t?) and then they offered me a regular gig reviewing books. I was hooked, and began studying the writing craft at that time.

Would you share with us what encouraged you to begin in the business of publishing?

I lost my mind. Just kidding! Seriously, in 2009, my husband was forced into early retirement and we knew we needed to make some drastic changes in our lives. I decided to go back to college. I was already very involved with writers – I’d operated and grown the Pix-N-Pens blog since 2007, and we had also been offering online workshops for writers, so I was in a great place to be observant. Jeff Gerke had just opened Marcher Lord Press for fantasy/sci-fi/speculative fiction, and I began to wonder if I could do the same thing with a different focus. We prayed about it, and God just opened doors to make it happen.

How has God inspired, guided, provided, and sustained you in this endeavor?

Publishing is hard work. Writing is harder, and I stand in awe at the work of our authors. They work incredibly hard – not just with writing, but with marketing, speaking, ministry. And still manage to care for their families and friends. It’s all God. He gets all the credit, all the glory for everything we do. I just show up for work, and ask Him for guidance every step of the way.

What are your aspirations for Write Integrity Press and Pix N Pens Publishing?

We want to continue to publish two kinds of books – clean and wholesome books that may or may not have a strong gospel message, and for those who are already Christians or folks who are seeking a relationship, but don’t yet know it is the Lord they are seeking, books with a strong gospel message that point the way to Jesus.

My ultimate goal is to open a production company so we can produce clean and wholesome movies and television programs, many based on our books. I’ll earn my bachelor’s degree in May, and I’m in the process of applying for grad school, where I will seek an MFA in Screenwriting. I’ve been offered an opportunity to participate in a “Hollywood Experience” through my school this summer, and my best friend is trying to raise funds to make that happen. (Here’s the link: http://www.gofundme.com/65fh3w) For two weeks, a small group of us will be fully immersed in a Hollywood experience, learning from professional screenwriters, directors, producers from shows like The Ultimate Gift, Lost, Prison Break, and several others. This year’s focus is specifically on screenwriting, so it’s the perfect time for me to go. We desperately need Christian film makers putting their stamp on Hollywood. But we’ll see what happens with the fundraiser – if I’m given the opportunity to go, I’ll make the most of every second. If not, God must have something else in store.

What inspired you to begin collaborative books?

Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt FRONT Cover Late September 2012, one of our anthology authors pitched a Christmas book idea to me and I loved it. I asked some of our other authors if A Ruby Christmas FRONT COVER REVISEDthey might be interested in trying this experiment, and they all jumped at the opportunity. By December, we were publishing A Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt, and to our surprise, it became wildly successful. Our authors stayed on Amazon’s Top 100 Bestselling Authors list for eight straight days, beside such authors as John Grisham, Stephen King, Stephanie Myers. The book went into 16 different countries, and into the hands of tens of thousands – in just a few days. It was an incredible experience for us all, and it showed us the reach we actually have when we all work together. We also TOTALLY depended on God for every step of that project – and that made all the difference in the world. It was beautiful. And we were hooked! Now, we’re doing two collaborative novels a year – Christmas and Valentine’s, and a couple of us are toying with the idea of a summer idea as well.   Here are links to our websites:   www.WriteIntegrity.com, www.PixNPens.com.

A Dozen ApologiesThe authors of A Dozen Apologies have worked tirelessly on the writing and editing of this unique story, and even more on the marketing. So it’s going to be fun, and I just hope they all don’t want to shoot me after its over! Here’s a taste of the story of Mara:

Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up.

In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better.

Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job that she ever thought possible.

Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

The full ebook releases on Valentine’s Day. Meanwhile, if you’d like to get a head start, come on over to www.WriteIntegrity.com, where you’ll have the opportunity to vote for your favorite hero.

Bio:

Tracy Ruckman is wife to Prince Charming, mom to two grown sons, servant to a spoiled rotten doggy, full-time student, and a traditional book publisher. In her spare time, she likes to squeeze in sleep, showers, cooking, and even occasional jaunts out into the public (usually the grocery store, farmers market, or writer’s conference) as time allows.

 


God’s Plans vs. My Own, a Devotion by Jennifer Hallmark

January 21, 2014

Jennifer Dison HallmarkIt is my pleasure to welcome author Jennifer Dison Hallmark to my blog today. I’ve gotten to know Jennifer through our blogs, Facebook, and most recently working together on A Dozen Apologies. More about than later.

God’s Plan Vs. My Own

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

 I longed for adventure, a writing voyage of sorts. So in January of 2006, the quest to wear the title, writer/author, began. Yes, it was time for my life-long hobby to magically transform into a career. So I stepped out and signed up for a local class offered in creative writing. You too can be published. I had a lot to learn.

Eight years later, I’ve witnessed my fourth short story published, and three of them paid me. I finished writing novel three in my YA trilogy and novel one in my contemporary women’s fiction. I’m seeing my first publication with the inspirational romance novella, A Dozen Apologies. The expedition has been wonderful, but slow.

As I plod along at what seems like a snail’s pace, I came across words I wrote at the beginning of this journey, words that have carried me through when times were hard and doors didn’t open. I share these in hopes that any new/unpublished writers will focus on the positive from the start and not falter along the path. By the way, this works for any new venture. Just reword it to fit.

(1)  If I am never published, I can still improve my writing and learn from the study.  I can share with the church newsletter and my friends and they can benefit.

(2)  If no one wants my work, but God asked me to write, then I am obedient and He is glorified.

(3)  God has given me a talent to write and I enjoy writing.  There is so much to write about in the world and if God opens the door for me to write, He will equip me to meet deadlines.

(4)  If I am successful, I can glorify God with my writing, give more in tithes and offering, and reach others with the written word.

(5)  If God opens the door for me to be published, He will strengthen and equip me to write more things.

God has already done far above what I could ask or think. I thought published novel with a year or two. He thought new friends, rising above fear, travel, magazines, internet devotions, and a closer walk with Him. His plan is better, don’t you think?

 Father God, thank you that You’ve planned my steps and continually point me to Your path. Help me follow as close to You as I can. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About Jennifer:

Jennifer Hallmark: writer by nature, artist at heart, and daughter of God by His grace. She loves to read detective fiction from the Golden Age, watch movies like LOTR, and play with her two precious granddaughters. At times, she writes.

Her website is Alabama-Inspired Fiction and she shares a writer’s reference blog, Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My! with friends, Christina, John, Ginger, Dicky, and Betty. She and Christina Rich share an encouraging blog for readers called The Most Important Thing.

Jennifer and her husband, Danny, have spent their married life in Alabama and have a basset hound, Max.

Website http://www.jenniferhallmark.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jenniferhallmark?fref=ts

Facebook author’s page https://www.facebook.com/authorjenniferhallmark

Twitter https://twitter.com/JenHwrites

Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/jenlhallmark989/

                    ***

Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up.

A Dozen ApologiesIn college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better.

Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job that she ever thought possible.

Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

One  chapter at a time is being posted on the website of Write Integrity Press. It started yesterday.  You can visit www.WriteIntegrity.com, catch up on the fun, and vote for your favorite hero. Then, on Valentine’s Day, you can find out which hero “gets the girl.”

I hope you’re as excited as we are about this collaborative adventure!


Conduits of Life – Changing Love by Jennifer Slattery

June 7, 2012

My Bible reading this morning was in the book of Psalms. The first couple of verses:  “Blessed is he who considers the poor; The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. 2 The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive, And he will be blessed on the earth;” Psalm 41: 1-2(NKJV).

Immediately, I thought about Jennifer Slattery and her undying efforts to help others, especially those who are unable to help themselves. Very appropos, since I had already scheduled this blog post with Jennifer many weeks ago.  I am delighted and privileged to share her heart with you in this very small way, and I hope you will also share in her efforts by going to the link she provides below and voting for her pic.

***

Last summer, I spoke with a woman regarding the number of homeless children in our world. I had just finished mailing a package to orphans in El Salvador, and my heart was burdened not only for these young girls, but for the countless other children worldwide in similar situations. I’m not sure what kind of response I was expecting, but it wasn’t what I received.

She offered a hand-washing, “If the women would be responsible…”

It’s easy to point fingers, but like I tried to express to this woman, a scared and lonely child struggling to survive doesn’t care why they are where they are. They care about one thing: Will anyone help me!

Walking away, frustrated and a bit teary at the misconceptions and rush to judgment apparent in the woman’s words, I realized much of her response came from a lack of knowledge. And I can’t help but wonder if we all, including myself, share a bit of this woman’s faulty thinking.

Like the woman, we often assume poverty and orphan care is someone else’s problem, but God says differently. God is much more concerned with how we love than how well we sing or how many verses we can recite.

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you” (James 1:27 NLT).

The depth of our faith is demonstrated in the depth of our love.

This problem of poverty, abuse, and homelessness isn’t going to go away any time soon, and as my daughter often reminds me when I weep over children sold into sex trafficking or working in sugar plantations, I can’t change the world. But I can share Christ’s love and change faulty thinking. I can be part of the solution by finding ways, big and small, to join in what God is already doing.

God can and will use us to sprinkle His life-changing love, grace, and mercy to a hurting world.

Will you join me? Simply pop by the Mary Kay website (https://www.mkmakeovercontest.com/gallery.jsp?id=163379 ) and voting for Jennifer Slattery’s not-so-lovely mug shot. If her photo wins, Mary Kay will donate a total of $5,500 GoThreads (http://gothreads.org/) and the Raining Season (http://www.therainingseason.org/). As an added incentive, Mary Kay consultant Sharyline Cochrane http://www.marykay.com/sharilyne/default.aspx) is giving away $10 gift certificates and free make-overs (in person or via Skype) to everyone who votes then lets us know they did so in the comments of this post.

You can vote up to five times per day, so start clicking! J

***

Jennifer Slattery lives in the Midwest with her husband and daughter. She writes for Christ to the World Ministries, the ACFW Journal, Internet Café Devotions, and Jewels of Encouragement. You can connect with her online at her devotional blog at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com or via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte


Free for the Taking

May 17, 2012

As I’m sitting on my screened porch enjoying the beautiful day and harvesting the seeds from spent zinnia blossoms, I’m thinking, boy, I’ll have a huge flower garden next year! The seeds I purchased this year provided us with a beautiful planting around the mail box as well as a round bed in the center of the front yard. In these small gardens we have zinnias, coleus, and marigolds. Who knows what next year may hold?

In case you’re like me, love flowers and don’t mind the little work involved, you, too, can have a plethora of seeds for next year’s planting, just for the taking. If you’ve never tried it, once your blossoms have dried, you can pull the seeds out and store them in brown paper bags, or envelopes. If you’re a visual person and  like to see it being done, there are several instructional videos on U-Tube about harvesting seeds.

I sure like things that are free. Don’t you?

Thinking about God’s many wonderful gifts, they’re not all tangible like the flowers,  nonetheless miraculous. Nonetheless free. And all we have to do to receive His free gift, eternal life with Him, is simply accept it.

John 10:11 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (NIV)   And Jesus did just that for us.

One of my favorite passages is one of the most familiar: Psalm 23. It is so full of what God is to us when we trust Him. This Scripture reminds me that God is my caretaker, my refuge and my strength, my source of peace and the guardian of my soul, my provider, my protector and deliverer, my assurance, my salvation. My all. Think about each phrase as you read it.

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

I can’t imagine life without Him, can you?


Creature in the Garden

March 31, 2012

February is planting month in Florida, assuming there are no more frosts or freezes expected. This year, we hardly had a winter, with only a handful of cold days, so I kicked into full gear and set out to plant my first garden since retirement.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’d carefully filled cardboard egg cartons with soil and sewn my seeds. Within days,  tiny shoots appeared, and in a few weeks, some gorgeous, healthy, green pepper plants swayed in the light breeze. I watered them religiously and fed them nitrogen-rich fertilizer weekly. I even talked to a few of them. (No one was around to witness that, so let’s keep it our secret.)  As soon as they were big enough, I transplanted them into the container where I expected they’d spend the rest of their happy little lives.

Soon after the plants were about two or three inches tall, I noticed one had been sheared off at the base, cut as cleanly as if someone had taken a pair of scissors to it.  No obvious bugs were detected nor grandchildren around tall enough to be able to commit the crime.

So I planted another bell pepper in its place. Days later, all were growing and doing well. Then, the “what-ever-it-was” struck again. This time it was a smaller plant in the same container. Replanted again.

I consulted with a gardening friend.  He had no idea what could be happening. In fact, he asked, “Are you sure no one cut them with scissors?”

A few more days went by, and the little pepper farm thrived. This morning, all the pepper plants smiled, stood at attention,  mouths open waiting for that good drink of water they knew was coming. A couple hours later, another casualty.

“All right,” said I. “What’s going on here?” A little closer examination of the fatality and I spied the culprit, a three-quarter inch black and brown striped caterpillar, or worm or something. Since I’m not very fond of wiggly things, I didn’t pick it up to see if it had legs. However, I found a stick and lifted it from the soil and tossed it onto the cement pad just outside my back porch. And just to make sure it couldn’t find its way back to my pepper plants, I carefully positioned my shoe over the critter. Immediately, all that was left of it was a slimy green stain.

“Ewww.”  Yes, I agree. That’s kind of gross. But that rascal won’t be eating any more of my pepper plants!

What is it that invades the garden of our life, threatening to seriously damage or destroy it? Are we being tempted with pride, jealousy, strife, gossip, disobedience, short temper? Lying, violence, immorality, the love of money? Unforgiving, unloving, unmerciful?  Futile thoughts, foolish hearts, maliciousness?

Let us always be on guard to identify those things with which the evil one will try to infect us.  As soon as we recgonize a creature trying to steal our joy in the Lord, we need to crush it, just as thoroughly as that caterpillar. I don’t know about you, but with me, it’s a daily watch.

“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”  James 1: 12.NKJV


Nurturing the Seedlings

March 3, 2012

In an earlier post, I talked about planting seeds.  I watched as the spinach, squash, tomato, cucumber and chive sprouts seemed to leap out of the soil within days. I was so excited! We’d talked about planting a garden since last summer. Now here it was, the beginnings of the fruit of our labor.

Daily, I checked on them, making sure that they had enough water, sunshine, and no exposure to extreme cold. Remember, it is February.  Now, my little garden has many new plants. And these plants are very tender. They wouldn’t fare well in an environment of harsh winds, extreme heat, drought, or mistreatment.

Reminds me of a new Christian. They are tender, vulnerable little plants, babes, if you will.  Yes, God is the One germinated those seeds someone planted in them. God is the One who saved them, and God is the One who will keep them. But just as we nurture our little vegetable plants toward being strong, healthy, and fruit bearing, God expects us to care for new Christians, to help them to grow, to strengthen, to mature, and become fruitful.

Babes in Christ will associate with the convictions and values of those observed during the beginning of their walk with the Lord. They will be watching us and listening to us. They will model our behaviors, so we need to make sure that we represent Jesus in the most positive and accurate light. New Christians must be made aware of what it means to follow Christ.

We wouldn’t leave a newborn baby unattended without food, shelter, security. New believers simply cannot be thrust out into the world to flounder on their own unprepared and be expected to grow into mature Christians on their own. We need to do more than smile and shake their hand on Sunday morning. We need to call them and tell them how happy we are that they have become “one of us.”  We need to  pray for them, they need to see us pray and seek God’s will. We need to visit them and invite them into our home. We need to teach them. We need to show them that we care.


Planting the Seeds

February 17, 2012

As I sit on my back porch looking at the seedlings I’ve planted in cardboard egg cartons, and contemplating the miracle of the growth of these plants, I am reminded that no matter how much soil, fertilizer and water I use, germination isn’t going to occur without God’s intervention. There’s only so much I can do to make this happen. But there is something I must do. I must plant the seeds.

I’d saved empty egg cartons for months and purchased the seed packets. About a week after I’d filled the containers with potting soil, placed them in a sunny location, carefully divided the seeds and dropped them in, gently covered them with more soil, and moistened them with water from our rain barrels, tiny green sprouts begin to emerge from the earth. These once-dead kernels had come to life. Each morning as I enjoyed my morning coffee on the porch, I’d notice how much the plants had grown.

“So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.” 1 Corinthians 3:7-8. NKJV

“And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:17 NKJV

God is blessing my little garden, and this is good. But there’s so much more. Will I plant the God’s spiritual seeds where they need to be planted? We plant His truths in our hearts through consistent reading of the Bible, study and meditation on the Word, and prayer. Then we can plant seeds in the hearts of family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers. How to do this best? It is by being bold in acknowledging and praising God for who He is first, then sharing what He has done in our lives, by being thoughtful and courteous in all our interactions, weaving God’s truths into the stories we write, and, most importantly, by showing (not just telling) people that we care.


It’s All About Pride

February 4, 2012

I’ve had conversations with young women in love, married and not, who have stated or implied that they argue with their spouse or boyfriend frequently. It’s not that they’re necessarily coming to me for advice, although I’ve had people ask how in the world my husband and I have managed to stay together for forty-seven years, and we both have hair left on our heads. Well, okay, I have more than he does, but it’s not that I pulled his out.

I think the longevity of our relationship is particularly amazing to some because I married young. Quite young. Let’s face it. It hasn’t all been peaches and cream, especially before we were both saved. We’ve had our share of struggles. Even after we were saved, there have been a few little humps and bumps in the road. But it certainly isn’t the washboard we traveled before.

Relationships adjust and mature (hopefully) as individuals change and grow. It takes effort to maintain a healthy union over time. Each person has their own “right” viewpoint, and everyone has a “right” to their point of view. However, it’s no one’s “right” to constrain the other person to your own perspective. God did, after all, make us different people.

What is it that causes a couple to struggle with conflict? I couldn’t possibly do justice to this subject in the space of a blog post, nor am I an expert. But I know the One who is the best Relationship Counselor ever. So I will point you to a few places that you may find answers for yourself. From what I have seen, the most prevalent problem that arises translates to “it’s all about me.” What’s at the core of that? Pride. So, what does God say about pride? Let’s see: (all Scripture NKJV)

• Proverbs 28:25 “He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife, But he who trusts in the LORD will be prospered.”

• I Peter 5:5 in part says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

• Proverbs 21:19 “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.”

• Proverbs 26:21 “As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.”

Selflessness is a picture of our Lord and Savior, whom we are to strive to emulate. In the three short years of His ministry, His every action was for the benefit of others. His ultimate loving act, His submission to die on the cross for the remission of our sin, provides us with the spiritual freedom we have today. God tells us in both Matthew 19 and Mark 10 that when a man and a woman marry, they become as one flesh. This does not refer only to the intimate physical part of the relationship, but indicates that the couple should live in harmony. How to do that?

• Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:26

• Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Romans 12:15-17

• Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; Romans 12:9-11

• “… with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,” Ephesians 4:2

• “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

• “…submitting to one another in the fear of God. Ephesians 5:21

Now having said all that, please be sure to read Ephesians chapter 5, and understand that the husband is the head of the family. This scripture also addesses how the husband is to treat the wife.  In this “modern” time, women tend to want to rule the roost. Please don’t tell me I’m “old-fashioned.” 1 Peter tells us that “the Word of the Lord endures forever.”

And, oh yes, I am looking in the mirror as I write this.


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