Friday, September 28, 2012

Interview with Author, T.J. Dell

Today it is my privilege to host author T.J. Dell and to discuss her newest book, Whispers in the Woods.  T.J. will be giving away two signed paperbacks of Whispers in the Woods, along with three $5 Amazon Gift Cards during her tour.  Be sure to sign up at the bottom of this post.

THE INTERVIEW

1. For starters, please tell us a little about yourself.

Ho-hum, hum-ho. A little about me? Well I'm a mommy of two toddlers. And if you are a mommy then you will understand how that defines 90 percent of me. The other 10 percent is a hopeless romantic that loves stories. Books, movies, television, even local high school theater floats my boat.

2. Have you always been a writer? Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I have had a lot of jobs... a lot. So no, I wouldn't say that I've always been a writer. But I have always wanted to write. I've always been intrigued by the idea of having other people enjoy the stories constantly playing out in my mind.

3. In your opinion, what are the easiest and most difficult parts of being a writer?

Pretty much all of being a writer is difficult. But it wouldn't be worthwhile if it wasn't. One thing that gets to me the most is release day. I suffer from the absolute knowledge that no one is going to buy or like each new title. I don't breathe an easy breath until that first (hopefully positive) review pops up on amazon.

4. Would you tell us what your book is about?

Evie Parker moves to Benair Falls after a car accident makes her an orphan. On top of losing her parents she has to deal with living in a new town (with a grandmother that resents her) and starting a new school (where she has no friends).  Things start to look up when she meets Lucas. He is handsome and fun and everyone loves him. To make him even more perfect... he likes her. However, things aren't always exactly as they seem and Lucas has secrets. Secrets that nearly kill Evie.  Eventually Evie has to decide if having Lucas in her life is worth giving up normal forever. Because Elfin lords are anything but normal.

5. Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?

Sometimes I blame it on a slight case of Schizophrenia. (winky sarcastic face) Characters sometimes pop into my head for a visit and then refuse to leave until I tell their stories.

6. I understand you have a couple of other books that are doing well on Amazon. How long have they been out? What have you done to help them succeed?

Well I have actually just celebrated my book-iversary. My first title was published in September of 2011. That was 'Her Best Friend's Brother' and I haven't looked back. As far as making them succeed that is all credited to my readers. I must have the best readers on earth. I have received a number of messages from people stating that a coworker or a family member 'just insisted' that they read this. I can't think of a better compliment. I only 'insist' other people try out my very favorites.

7. What projects are you currently working on?

I'm happily working on Carter's story in Whispers in the Dark. That should be available at the end of this year. And I'm very excited about it. Carter is one character that really gets to you. He just moves right in and sets up shop in your heart.

8. What advice would you give to authors who are struggling to make it in the crowded world of publishing?

The best advice I can give is to tell you to 'keep it up'. Amazon and other digital booksellers have really broken a wide open path for indie writers. You no longer need to wait for someone from an office in New York to notice how awesome you are. Of course being an indie also means being your own editor, agent, and publicist. But it's worth it in the end. I promise.

9. Where can readers find you on the web?

Facebook is a second home for me facebook.com/dell.tj

10. Do you have anything else you would like to add?

Well of course I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me, and I hope you (and all your readers) enjoy Whispers in the Woods!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Vol. I
When Evie Parker meets Lucas Spencer she begins to feel hope again. Lately she's been going through life in a fog and Lucas is all about teaching her how to have fun again. For the first time since the accident she knows what it means to be happy.  So who cares if Lucas is a little odd. It isn't that strange that she's never met his parents, or that teachers never seem to notice when he's late for class. Evie tries not to care, but on top of all his peculiar behavior she's been feeling kind of sick lately-- ever since she met Lucas actually.  When Lucas decides it is time to come clean with all his secrets Evie has to make some hard decisions.


Vol. II
All Evie wants is a little bit of normal in her life-- is that really too much to ask? Lucas isn't normal, but he makes her happy. That should count for something. Evie thinks she can find a balance that will let her be normal and also be with him.  Of course she hadn't counted on adding his family into the mix, or his ex-girlfriend.  Life with an elf is never boring.


Vol III
Lucas and Evie were finally at a place where Evie was comfortable with her mix of normal human teenager and fantastical elf boyfriend. Then she went and got herself crushed by a tree. 
Evie wakes up with a whole lot of extra issues to deal with. Not the least of which is a trip inside the Veil to see Lucas's home. She never would have agreed to go if she'd known she was going to have her own secret to hide.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

When TJ isn't reading or writing (which is almost never), she is enjoying a blissfully boring life with her family in Maryland. Her two greatest wishes are to serve on a Starfleet Starship or to be invited to join the Justice League. Sure her chances are slim, but she's a big believer in dreaming big. 
 
A hopeless romantic to her very core, T.J.'s books explore every corner of the wobbly-kneed-world of romance novels. She has a particular penchant for Young Adult themes. Dell's debut novel 'Her Best Friend's Brother' is enjoying its tenth month as an Amazon best seller, and her popular Elfkin Series is hot on its heels.


PURCHASE LINKS


 
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Disclaimer:  My participation in this book tour does not mean that I have read and/or agree with the work being promoted.  Typically, unless I'm doing a book review, I do not have the opportunity to read the books before promoting them. The purpose of virtual tours is to help fellow authors promote their works, and while I am very particular about who and what I promote, I cannot guarantee that the beliefs and views stated in any specific book are my own. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

It Hurts When I Do This

I'm sure we're all familiar with the old joke about a man who went to his doctor and proclaimed, "Doc, it hurts when I do this."  To which the doctor replied, "Well, don't do that."  For some reason, it wasn't as comical when I had the same conversation with Tippy this morning.  (Yes, for those of you who are wondering, I talk to my dogs.  And while their communication to me may not be vocal--although sometimes it is vocalized through growls and howls--it is certainly evident in their attitudes and body language.)

I was working in my office when I heard Tippy whining as if she were in pain.  I stopped typing and sat still to see if I could identify the problem.  The whining continued as did a scuffing sound.  Immediately, I perceived what was going on.  For her own protection, Tippy was wearing a cone around her neck.  This keeps her from chewing herself raw during the summer season where bug bites and skin irritations flourish.  My little beagle, dense though she may be, had found a way around this issue and was vigorously rubbing her bottom against the corner of the bed frame.  Unfortunately, her efforts were not gaining the desired effect.  Instead of relieving her itches, she was only irritating the already tender areas.  But she just didn't get it, so her response was to rub harder.

I lovingly pulled her away from the bed, but I couldn't keep the sarcasm from my voice.  "Baby, if it hurts, stop doing it.  Duh!  That's really common sense."  My statement was promptly followed by a heavenly thump on the head.  "That's right, child.  You need to stop doing things that are hurtful."  That stopped me in my tracks.  Me?  What things am I doing that are hurtful?  As I took the dogs for their morning walks, I pondered that question.

Naturally, my mind was immediately drawn to the sore muscles that cried out with every step I took.  Muscles that were sore from yesterday's exercise routine.  I shook my head.  No, that couldn't be what God meant.  There are some pains that are good for us.  My sore muscles were a reminder that I had done something good for my body and mind.  Sometimes good things bring good pain.  That wasn't it.  Then it hit me.  What about those caffeinated beverages I drink to keep me going?  The result is an afternoon crash that leaves me feeling more sluggish than before and keeps my body in a constant state of craving.  What about the times I feel too busy to put on the armor of God, knowing that when Satan strikes, I'll be defenseless against his deadly darts?  What about the relationships I ignore or put off for one reason or another?  Don't I understand the hurt that will occur when I need a friend to turn to and can't find one?

It really is common sense, but I fear that common sense is not all that common these days.  Day after day, we live our lives seeking instant gratification and ignoring the pain that we'll face in the near future.  We know what's right.  We know what's good for us.  We know the difference between good pain and bad pain.  Yet we choose to suffer.  Why is that?  I guess we're not much brighter than my darling little Beagle, are we?  If we were, we'd be smart enough to know that if it hurts, we should stop doing it!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012

Am I Dead Yet?

 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. - Galatians 2:20

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. - Luke 9:23

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. - John 12:24

And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. - Galatians 5:24





Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. - Romans 6:3-4

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. - I Peter 2:24


Do you notice a trend?  These are just a few of the verses in the Bible that speak of a very important principle -- we have to die before we can live.  It boggles the mind.  It makes no sense.  Die to live?  But more than anything, it bruises our pride because deep down we know exactly what God is saying.  In order to live full and complete lives in Christ, we must die to ourselves daily, and that, my friends, is not an easy task.

Dying to our selves is the act of putting aside our own ambitions, desires, goals, dreams and plans.  It involves saying (and meaning), "Not my will, but thine be done, O Lord."  It means telling ourselves over and over again, "It's not about me.  It doesn't matter what I want.  It doesn't matter what I think or feel.  It's all about God and fulfilling His desire for my life.  That is truly all that matters."  So I'm asking you, "Am I dead yet?  Are you?"

I'm tired of living a mediocre life.  I've had it with being easily swayed by circumstances in my life.  I'm fed up with doing things my way because you know what?  My way doesn't work!  My way only succeeds in leaving me frustrated and disappointed.  I've had enough.  I'm ready to die (spiritually, of course--this is not a suicide note).  I think I've finally gotten it through my thick skull that I can't live this life on my own.  If I really want to live and live abundantly like the Bible talks about, then this is the necessary step.

Dearly Beloved, 

We are gathered here today to celebrate the passing of Dana Rongione.  She was a stubborn soul who lived only to serve the flesh, and we give thanks that she finally saw the Light.  Unto thee, O Lord, do we commend her spirit that she may walk with You in newness of life and experience joy like she's never known before.  And all God's children said, "Amen."

Now I can finally rest in peace . . . well, at least until I need to die again.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Unstoppable: The Incredible Power of Faith in Action

My physical challenges are easy to see, yet people only have to talk to me or hear me speak for a few minutes to understand how much joy I have in spite of that. So they often ask me how I stay positive and where I find the strength to overcome my disabilities. My answer, always, is, “I pray for God’s help, and then I put my faith in action.” I have faith. I believe in certain things that I have no tangible proof of—things I cannot see, taste, touch, smell, or hear. Most of all, I have faith in God. Though I can’t see or touch Him, I believe He created me for a purpose, and I believe that when I put my faith and my beliefs into action, I put myself in a position for God’s blessings.

Excerpted from Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic



Click here to read the introduction and first chapter of this inspiring new book.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Interview with Christian Author, Carrie Robinson

Today, I'm delighted to post the following interview with Christian author, Carrie Robinson.  Carrie has a heart-warming story to tell, as well as an interesting ministry.  I enjoyed and appreciated her honesty in answering my questions, and I'm sure you will too.  Also, as part of her online book tour, Carrie will be giving away two signed copies of her book, so be sure to sign up at the bottom of this post.


THE INTERVIEW

1. First off, would you please tell us a little about yourself?

I was born, 46 years ago now, in a city called Gulfport, Mississippi. My parents were not married. I am the youngest of four children, and at the time my mother was living with her mom. My mother gave me up for adoption and I was raised by my father’s mother and her husband. My childhood was pretty normal, until my Papa died, then all hell broke loose. (You can read what happened in my book, Trusting In The Father’s Love.) Suffice it to say, I have been through the fire and have come out without the smell of smoke. God has blessed me with a wonderful husband, and we celebrate our marriage of 20 years. I have a Master’s in Nursing and teach Maternity at our local college. I am also blessed with two sons and a grandson. As a writer, of course I love to read. I also enjoy word puzzles, spending time with family and friends, vacationing in the mountains, and riding my motorcycle, a Kawasaki Vulcan 750.

2. As a fellow Christian, I would love to hear your testimony.

My testimony is that the love of God captured my heart and delivered me from years of bondage and self-hate, and His love continues to develop me into the woman He desires me to be as I fulfill my destiny in Christ. As far as the details, it can be found in my book, Trusting In The Father’s Love.


3. As I understand it, you are a relationship mentor. Could you explain to the readers what that means and what exactly your ministry entails?

A mentor can be defined as a guide, advocate, listening ear, friend, trusted counselor. As a relationship mentor, I help women, primarily, first develop themselves as a strong woman walking in the Word, second, build and develop the relationships that she may currently be involved in and thirdly, have the ability to build, strong relationships in the future.

What I do as a business is a ministry and vice versa. I am about my Father’s business of developing people. Jesus spent the last 3 years of His life developing the 12 by pouring into them and spending time with them. That is what I am called to do.

4. What is your book about? Is it a devotional book?

My book is a love story about rejection, abuse, a lost young woman coming to trust in the God that she knew from the time she was a little girl. I am just completing my second book, which is a devotional/workbook that we hope to have out in the Spring of 2013.

5. Is this your first book?

Yes, my first published book. I have always been a writer. I wrote articles for the local newspaper in high school and have always kept a journal. I am an avid bookworm by heart. I love the paper in the old books. One of my favorite’s pastimes is going to the local library book sales and smelling the old books. There is no paper like that old paper. It is somehow soothing to me. Weird, huh?

6. What has been the most difficult part of writing?

Sitting down to my computer and doing it. The ideas always come, for me it’s having the discipline of sitting down and getting it all out. The work begins with editing, proofing and such. Marketing and promotion are also very time consuming, and I had no clue…that’s why God did not tell me.

7. Has there ever been a time in your ministry (writing or mentoring) when you felt that your efforts were in vain? If so, what did that feel like, and how did you pull yourself out of the slump?

Yes, and it has been the comments of my readers that have pulled me out of the slump every time. When a woman comes up to me and tells me how my book/story impacted her life, I literally want to go somewhere and cry…it makes it all worth it. Also, in my quiet times with God I get confirmation that I have been called to this.

8. Why did you decide to write this book? After all, as a fellow Christian writer, I can testify that there's not a lot of money to be made with Christian works unless you have a well-established name. What was your motivation?

Fear…honestly. The fear of not being able to walk completely FREE in Christ was part of my motivation. I meet so many bound women as I, too, once was, and I came to a point where I refused to be bound by fear, unforgiveness or anything the devil wanted to dish out to me. So I put what had held me in bondage on paper, and here it is for the entire world to see. I am freer that I have ever been in my life. Free to live, love and laugh!

9. When writing a book, I often feel that I am learning much more than my readers will. Do you feel the same? If so, what lessons do you feel you've learned through writing Trusting in the Father's Love?

Laughs…I have and am still learning as I speak with women of all walks of life that we are all the same. We may look different on the outside, but on the inside we all want to be loved and accepted for who we are. Regardless of color, size, whatever...we want unconditional love. I found that unconditional LOVE is only found in JESUS. He is the one who set me FREE to be me. No one else can do that, not even my darling husband.

10. Is there anything else you would like to say?

I want to say to the hurting women, God desires you to LIVE and LIVE abundantly. No matter the situation or circumstance, your life is NOT over. After all that happened to me, I am still here and stronger and better than I ever was. You can DO this thing called LIFE. You are not alone, GOD IS with you, and He loves you. You can trust in HIS love for your life!  Thank You.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Sharing lessons learned from her own life, Carrie Robinson shares how years of rejection propelled her into a Love and Trust relationship with God.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Southern charm, love, and hospitality are words used to describe Carrie. With over twenty years in ministry, she is passionate in developing relationships and teaching others how they can enjoy strong, healthy and lasting relationships by walking in the God kind of love.
A relationship mentor, Carrie inspires women to joyfully participate in living life to the fullest. Through writing and speaking, she encourages women and supports leaders by helping create a culture of joy to face storms with strength. Carrie knows how to encourage women to pursue their passion, while trusting in God for the outcome. She is skilled in handling difficult people in love, and motivates others to do the same.
Carrie has been married to her husband, Michael for twenty years. They have two sons, Christopher and Coleman and a grandson, Chris Jr.  She and Michael serve as Elders to Pastors Anthony and Margo Wallace of Crossroad Christian Church. They also head up the Marriage Ministry.  Carrie has a Masters in Nursing and is employed as a Nursing Instructor.  She and Michael are Certified Prepare/Enrich Counselors.
Carrie currently resides in Delaware and loves spending time vacationing, with her family, in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia. It is here she spends time writing. She also enjoys reading, traveling, and cruising on her Kawasaki Vulcan 750!
Let Carrie show you how with God's power, you can overcome personal challenge and develop strong, healthy, and lasting relationships through walking in love.


AUTHOR LINKS: 




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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

God of All Creation by James Robison

Can God's creatures provide us with inspiration and spiritual insight?  Are there lessons we can learn from our pets?  Author James Robison seems to think so, for that's the entire message of his book, God of All Creation, a collection of short devotions based on lessons he learned from pets and wildlife.  Robison recounts profound insights about trusting in the Master, listening for the Master's voice, heeding directions, being on guard and so much more.  Each story is entertaining and educational.

I first heard about Robison's book through a friend who was reviewing it.  She wanted to let me know how much the book reminded her of my own devotional book, 'Paws'itively Divine:  Devotions for Dog Lovers.  After reading just a couple of chapters, I, too, noticed the similarities.  That being the case, I immensely enjoyed the book.  I'm ever mindful of the many lessons I've learned from my two dogs, so I can totally relate to Robison's accounts.  God has created a huge world for us to enjoy but also to learn from.  There are no accidents or coincidences, so I firmly believe that there are lessons all around us to be learned.  Sometimes we just need to pay better attention.

The short nature of each devotion made it easy to read a little each day.  But no matter how much or little I read, I always walked away with much to meditate on.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the picture sketches throughout the book.  They added life and character to the pages and enriched the heart-warming tales.  All in all, this book was an inspiration, and I highly recommend it, especially to animal lovers.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Waterbrook Multnomah book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, September 14, 2012

Every Day Deserves a Chance

I prevented the dawning of the morning. - Psalm 119:147a

What an interesting phrase.  Unfortunately, it's so easily overlooked in the massive chapter of Psalm 119.  In fact, I recently discovered a couple of things that I had overlooked time and time again because I had been so focused on the theme of the psalm:  the Word of God.  The first is the phrase above from verse 147.  The second is the 16 different times the psalm references living or quickening (making alive).  After some thought and study, I've come to the conclusion that the two are related.

In the book of John, Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."  God wants more for us than our mere existence.  He wants us to truly live!  He wants us to enjoy life, not endure it.  He longs for us to live to our full potential, holding nothing back.  But so often, we prevent the dawning of the morning.  No, we can't keep the sun from rising on the horizon, but we can certainly keep it from rising in our souls.  And we do every time we fail to give the day a chance.

"Oh man, it's Monday again.  I hate Mondays!" - We are setting ourselves up for a bad day.

"I have so much to do today.  I don't know how I'm going to get it all done.  In fact, I don't even know where to begin." - We are setting ourselves up for a stressful day.

"I know I should exercise today, but I'm just too tired.  I'll do it tomorrow." - We are setting ourselves up for guilt, as well as a lack of energy.

"It would be nice to have a proper meal, but I just don't have the time.  We'll grab something on the way." - We are setting ourselves up for poor health.

Every time we fail to do something we know we should do, we prevent the dawning of the morning.  Every time we approach situations with a "doom and gloom" attitude, we prevent the sun from rising in our souls.  Day after day, we find ourselves in the darkness of night, and it's our own faults.  Because of fear of failure or fear of hard work, we are denying ourselves the opportunity to live fully.  We haven't given life a chance!

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of living in the night.  I want to see the sunshine!  I want to live.  I want to serve the Lord the best I can, and I can't do that in the dark.  It's time for a change of attitude.  It's time for a change of perspective.  It's time to start doing the things I know I need to do.  I'm ready to experience life more abundantly!  Are you with me?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Please Don't Run From Me

My dogs have fleas.  We've tried every shampoo, spray, and application we can get our hands on, and just when it seems like we have the fleas under control, they surface again.  I don't know if they're really heavy in the backyard, and the dogs pick them up when they go outside or what.  But one thing I do know is that the fleas are driving me crazy!  I'm so tired of the itching and scratching of my poor pups.  I know they're miserable, so I do the only thing I know to do.  I spray them daily with our all-natural repellant.  They don't like it, but at least it seems to keep the itching and scratching down some.

The biggest problem I have is with Tippy.  As I've told you before, our adorable little Beagle is not the brightest crayon in the box.  When she itches, she doesn't know when to stop.  She'll dig and scratch at an area until she's pulled out the hair, ripped through the skin and made a bloody mess.  She just doesn't quit.  Right now, we're calling her "Baboon Bottom" because her back end is completely bald.  For her own protection, I'm having to keep a cone around her neck when I'm away or can't watch her.  Additionally, I have to treat the fleas and care for the areas she's made raw from her incessant scratching.

She's caught on to the daily treatments, so every time I call her or she sees me walking toward her, she runs from me and hides.  This makes me feel horrible.  I mean, after all, I'm only trying to help.  I'm trying to do what I know will help her to feel better and to eventually get better.  But she doesn't understand that.  All she knows is that she doesn't like my help.  It's uncomfortable.  So she'd rather run and hide.

I have no room to talk, for I do the same thing with God.  So many times in my life, God works in ways I don't like, so I run from Him.  Deep down, I know He's trying to help me, but the process is uncomfortable, and I don't want to have to go through it.  I run and hide, remaining miserable with my "itches and scratches", but unwilling to allow God to do what He needs to do to take care of me.  I can be so stubborn!

Do you know what though?  When I finally get hold of Tippy and treat her wounds, I can tell she feels much better.  She is able to rest, and her relief is evident in her expression and mannerisms. When I finally allow God to work on me, the result is the same.  Though the process is unpleasant, the result is worth it. 

Hopefully, sometime in the near future, Tippy and I will both figure out that it's better not to run and hide.  After all, the Master is only trying to help.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Shake It Off!

And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita. And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. - Acts 28:1-3

Poor Paul!  He's already been imprisoned multiple times, stoned, beaten, shipwrecked and now bitten by a snake.  To the average onlooker, it might seem that God was trying to get Paul's attention.  I mean seriously, how much bad can happen to one person, right?  But those thoughts are derived from our warped sense of tribulation.  When bad things happen in our lives, we often automatically assume that we've done or are doing something wrong.  We assume that the trial we're facing is a punishment from God, and sometimes that may be the case.  But if we take a close look at the life of Paul, we'll see that such is not always the case.

With the exception of his call on the Damascus Road, Paul's difficult circumstances always followed on the heels of his doing the Lord's will.  He was preaching.  He was testifying.  He was being a witness.  He was helping others.  He was being a true servant.  Take the example in the passage above.  Paul was gathering firewood.  He could have sat there and allowed others to serve him, but he didn't.  He chose to serve, and what was his reward?  He was bitten by a viper.  I don't do snakes!!!!

If we're going to make it through this life with our joy intact, we need to realize that bad things in our lives don't always indicate punishment.  In fact, if we're doing our best to serve God, we can rest assured that we will face hard times.  Why?  Because Satan doesn't want us to serve God.  He wants to distract us.  He wants to discourage us.  He wants us to grow so weary that we throw up our hands and quit.  Even when we're serving God, the snake still bites.  The key is how we will respond.

Like Paul did with the viper, our response to difficult circumstances should be to shake them off.  And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. (Acts 28:5)  Paul shook it off and went on with his business.  We need to do the same.  I won't insult your intelligence by telling you that the process will be easy.  It won't.  It will take strength.  It will take consistent effort.  And above all, it will take faith.  Faith that God knows what He's doing.  Faith that God is in control and is working in our lives to bring about a greater good.  Faith that God will keep His promises.  It will also take focus.  As long as we're staring at the circumstances surrounding us, we will find no peace.  But if we'll get our eyes on Christ, then like Paul, we will feel no harm.  With our eyes on Christ, we will be able to say without reservation, "Thy will be done."

Have the snakes been biting you lately?  Are you distracted and discouraged?  Does it seem like your all your efforts to serve God have been rewarded with heartache and pain?  If so, take comfort.  God knows what you're going through.  Talk to Him to discover if your current trials are chastisement for sin in your life or the deadly darts of the devil seeking to throw you off course.  If you discover it is the former, get it right and move on.  If it is the latter, shake it off.  Don't allow Satan to steal your peace and joy.  Shake it off and get back on track!

Friday, September 7, 2012

What Are You Looking At?

I sat back in my pew and closed my eyes as I sang along with the singer on the platform:  "My eyes will be on Jesus, and my heart will be aglow, and I won't have to worry anymore."  Suddenly, my eyes snapped open.  How had I missed that before?  I'd heard this song countless times.  How could I have missed such a profound lesson?

The song is a great one, and I completely understand what the songwriter meant when he wrote "I Won't Have to Worry Anymore".  For those of you not familiar with the song, the premise is that we won't have to worry once we reach Heaven.  All of our troubles will be over, so there will be no need for worry.  Being a bit of a worry-wart myself, I've always loved this song, but as I sat listening to it this last time, God revealed something to me -- I don't have to worry now!

My mind rehearsed the words of the chorus, and I couldn't help but smile.  "My eyes will be on Jesus. . . and I won't have to worry anymore."  You know what?  If we'd get our eyes on Jesus, we wouldn't have to worry now.  Worry is a lack of faith.  Worry is a result of looking at our circumstances instead of the Savior.  Worry is a choice!  Yes, it is true that in Heaven there will be nothing to worry about, but my friend, it is also true that we don't have to worry now.  We can have peace.  We can have joy.  Even when the skies are dark, we can still walk around with a smile on our lips and a song in our hearts. . .if we'll keep our eyes on Jesus.

Lack of worry is not dependent on the location of our souls.  It is dependent on the focus of our eyes.  So what are you looking at today?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fully Alive by Ken Davis

A man lies in a bed in the ICU of the local hospital.  Tubes and wires protrude from his feeble body and wind their way to massive machines on either side of the bed.  The lights on the machine and the bouncing bubble that displays the heartbeat give evidence to the fact that this man is indeed alive.  But is he living?

A Christian trudges through life doing what must be done to get by.  Upon examining his actions, one of two conclusions can be reached: (1) He has arrived at where he wants to be in life and has grown comfortable in that state; (2) He has despaired at ever arriving at where he wants to be in life and has grown comfortable with his uncomfortableness.  Either way, his life consists of getting through another day.  There's no doubt this man is alive.  But is he living?

In his newest book, Fully Alive, Christian author and speaker, Ken Davis explains how to tell the difference between being alive and truly living fully alive.  Davis delves into his personal experiences and illustrates for us the milestones God placed in his life to take him from a state of being alive to a state of fully living.  Through his thorough explanations and intriguing questions, he enables the reader to evaluate his/her own life and state of living.  And even though Ken Davis is most well-known for his Christian comedy, this book will make you cry.  In fact, it provides a message that will have you laughing and wiping tears from your eyes at the same time.  But I assure you, it is a message you will want to hear!

This book has changed my life.  I firmly believe God has used Fully Alive, in conjunction with some other teachings, to pull me out of a rut.  I was like the Christian in scenario #2, despairing of ever reaching my life's goals and dreams.  I had grown comfortable with my disappointment and discouragement, and in doing so, I had given up on life.  I was going through the motions day in and day out, but there was no life in me.  I had no joy.  I found no delight in the things I was doing, even the things I was doing for the Lord.  I was enduring life, but I wasn't enjoying it.  Life was happening to me, but I wasn't living.

When I read the description of this book, I knew it was something I wanted to read.  Besides, it was written by Ken Davis, so I knew it couldn't be bad.  I had no idea how much it would impact my life.  From the first page, I found myself nodding my head and saying, "Yes, I know what you mean.  You've just described my life."  And while most pages spoke comfort to my weary soul, I must admit some points stomped quite firmly on my toes.  However, after I soothed my wounded pride and studied out the things that had offended me, I realized that Davis was absolutely right.  God used his words to open my eyes to things I had been blinded to for some time.

I have every intention of going back through this book again.  It is so full of good information that it simple cannot be processed by reading through it once.  Nevertheless, I have already begun to implement some of the principles I learned through this great work.  I'm tired of just being alive.  I'm ready to live!  And thanks to Davis' willingness to open up his heart and share his personal struggles, I now have an action plan.  I finally see the light. . . and it's not the one at the end of the tunnel.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, September 3, 2012

Dripping With Blessings


Last Wednesday night when we arrived home from church, our dogs greeted us at the door just as they always do. We gave them some loving, and then headed to the kitchen for a snack. (Does anyone else get REALLY hungry during church?)

As I was looking through the refrigerator, I noticed there was only a small amount of milk in the container. We had a new jug of milk, so I thought the remainder of the first container would be a nice little treat for the dogs. They love milk! So, I poured a little into each of their bowls, and they drank greedily.

As they were drinking, Jason and I found a snack and began eating as we stood at the kitchen counter. Mitch, having finished his milk, came in and sat in front of Jason. With the most convincing look he could muster, he stared at Jason pitifully. I made some comment about the "poor starving puppy." Jason replied, "Yeah, his act would be much more convincing if he didn't still have milk dripping from his chin." I laughed, but then a hidden message hit me.

I do the same thing. I go to God with my "wish list." I look to Him with my poor-pitiful-me eyes. "I need this. I need that. I lack so many things," I tell Him. Little do I realize that I have blessings dripping from me. I don't NEED anything. I WANT a lot of things, but that's not the same thing. It is so easy to get into the frame of mind that I've been done wrong. Do you ever feel like that?

They have the job I want. They have money. They have a nice car. They live in a nice house. They have this, and they have that. I don't have any of that stuff, boo hoo! What a load of nonsense, but I fall for it time and time again. How dare I stand before God demanding more when I have blessings dripping from my chin!

Thankfully, God is a very patient and understanding God. Still, I don't want to be ungrateful for the many ways that He's blessed me. I don't want to ever lose sight of all that He's done for me. I pray that I will never forget, and that I will ever be mindful of the blessings I've received.


Excerpt from 'Paws'itively Divine: Devotions for Dog Lovers -- now available in paperback and e-book formats.