Sunday, December 28, 2008

Preparing for Easter

I am preparing for Easter. I know it was just Christmas and we are now supposed to be focused on New Years. I, however, am focused on Easter. Why? Because it dawned on me in a new and fresh way, that Christmas and Easter are two sides of the same coin.

I am so glad to have Christmas. The beautiful, holy and perfect Christ child born to save. It makes me smile everytime I think about it. That phrase, "born to save", is the key to the other side of the coin. The Christ child was born to save. Save He did. He saved us by his death and resurrection. That is what brings me to Easter.

Now that I have celebrated Christmas, I am beginning to prepare my heart for Easter. I know Lent is the forty days before Easter. But you know, I think it is important to start focusing on preparing my heart now.

I want to spend this time before Easter to pray and seek to know the Christ child, my Savior and Redeemer, better and more intimately than I ever have before. I want to prepare my heart to more fully understand and appreciate the sacrifice that was made on my behalf, on your behalf.

So, what will this preparation look like for me? More time reading my bible, more time praying, more time praising, more time serving my family in capacities I do not exactly cherish, less time complaining, less time worrying.

There are so many books on things were should be doing. I plan to concentrate on the one that can truly instruct me, my Bible. Passages such as Galatians 5:13-25, Ephesians 4-6, Philippians 2:3-18 and Colossians 3. There are other passages but these are an excellent starting place. Read them for yourselves, follow their instructions and see if your heart does not feel better prepared for the wonder and cleansing power of the Easter season.

Will you join me in preparing for Easter? You will be so blessed by doing so!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Book Tour: Marketplace Memos





It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!



You never know when I might play a wild card on you!











Today's Wild Card authors are:





and the book:



Marketplace Memos

New Leaf Publishing Group (October 20, 2008)



ABOUT THE AUTHORs:




David Shibley is founder and president of Global Advance, a ministry that trains and resources thousands of church and business leaders every year in many of the world's most underserved nations. Having ministered in almost 60 nations, David has a passion to strengthen and encourage national leaders to advance God's kingdom worldwide. David and his wife, Naomi, have two married sons.



Jonathan Shibley serves as vice president of Global Advance. His primary focus is directing the Marketplace Missions program for equipping business leaders in developing nations. He also is engaged in international business. Before joining Global Advance, he earned a business degree from Baylor University and served with Promise Keepers and Teen Mania. Jonathan and his wife, Sarah, have three children.





Product Details:



List Price: $ 13.99

Hardcover: 173 pages

Publisher: New Leaf Publishing Group (October 20, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0892216786

ISBN-13: 978-0892216789



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:





Giving Living





Years ago, a disgruntled man stormed up to Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, after he heard Dr. Pierce preach. The angry man snarled, “I guess all there is to this Christianity is give, give, give.” Reflecting later on that encounter, Dr. Pierce chuckled, “It just goes to show that even with the wrong spirit a man can get some revelation and truth!”



The often-quoted maxim – “You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give” – is true. Here are seven practical benefits of giving for God’s Kingdom purposes and the fulfilling of the Great Commission.



Your gift goes where you may never go. Your gift is an extension of yourself. You receive money in exchange for your investment of time and life. So when you give for Kingdom purposes, in a real sense you’re giving a part of yourself. Your gift says you want your life to count for what is eternal. Americans are generous, and Christians in America are especially so. There are many legitimate causes, but I don’t know anywhere givers can get more done for the dollar than in giving to world missions.



Giving living loosens the grip of materialism. I noticed a bumper sticker on the back of a sports car that read, “The man who dies with the most toys…wins.” But Jesus taught that the man who dies with the most “toys” is a short-sighted fool. It’s time for us to stop loving cars and clothes and start loving countries! If God so loved the world that He gave His Son, we need to so love the world that we invest in being sure everyone everywhere hears about His Son. I’ve driven through the poverty-drenched streets of Kolkata and the wealth-lined avenues of Beverly Hills. In both environments I saw desperate people. Jesus wasn’t kidding when He warned, “Beware of covetousness because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.” God calls us to embrace biblical prosperity while rejecting materialism. We can do both; we must do both.



You experience the eternal principle of sowing and reaping. Some churches in Africa practice a unique form of church discipline. If a professing Christian is living in sin, he is allowed to come to church, but he is not allowed to give! When the offering place comes to him, the usher places his hand over the plate and prevents him from giving. It is a powerful statement that the blessing of God is literally being prevented from coming to the unrepentant man’s life. It’s an eternal law woven into the very fabric of the universe. Farmers call it the law of sowing and reaping. Scientists refer to it as cause and effect. It’s reinforced throughout the Scriptures. The pattern is clear: you must sow in order to reap.



You lay up treasures in heaven. Jesus taught, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” A businessman once approached me and said, “I need more of a heart for missions. What should I do?” I replied, “Write out a $2,500 check for missions and sow it to the harvest, and I promise you, you’ll have more of a heart for missions.”



It just works that way. Where your treasure is (present tense), there your heart will be (future tense). Although “you can’t take it with you,” you can send it on ahead! This very day you can lay up treasures in heaven.



God will supply your every need. Are you ready for a jolt? Philippians 4:19 is not a promise for every Christian. It’s a great verse: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” But it is not a carte blanche to be claimed at will by anybody. No, this promise is given exclusively to those who invest in advancing the gospel.



Read the context. Paul told the Philippians they were the only church that had invested to send him on his first missionary journey. As a result of their gift to launch Paul to the nations, he promised that God would supply their every need. Yes, you can claim Philippians 4:19 if you give for the advance of the gospel.



You experience the joy of making a difference in the world. I make no apologies for challenging American Christians to tear loose from some of their money and give it to advance Kingdom causes worldwide. Jesus taught, “To whom much is given, from him much will be required.” With blessing comes accountability. There is a longing inside every true Christ-follower to make a difference for Him. We do not bear sole responsibility for world evangelization, but because of our affluence and influence, we do bear heightened responsibility.



You experience the significance of participating in God’s global purposes. A businessman thanked me for the opportunity to give to Global Advance. He tearfully said, “You give me purpose.” For this man, building his company is not the bottom line. He goes beyond the bottom line to build Christ’s Kingdom through building his company.



You move past mere success to true significance by aligning your life with God’s primary purpose. God’s primary purpose is to see His Son known, loved, and worshiped by redeemed people from every tribe and nation. And you are part of that plan. Live to give.





Remember: “Give and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)





Reflect: “What do your offerings say about your heart levels of gratitude and love for God? What does your spending say about what’s truly important on this earth?” – Robert Morris





Pray: That God will make you a joyful giver to His Kingdom causes.





Act: Where is the Holy Spirit directing you to invest for Christ’s Kingdom today?




Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And God said "Yes, you do"

I am worn out friends. Between caring for a sick child, being sick myself and trying to finish the second of two book proposals, I am tapped out. The good news is that the proposals are both done and have been submitted. Now I wait. I've never been very patient. Wonder if that has something to do with why God would call me to participate in an industry where you do a whole lot of waiting. Funny Lord. HAHA right back at ya! (And I mean that in the most reverently possible way)

I do want to share one thing with you. It's a little message God spoke to my heart.

Sunday my husband decided he wanted to track down a friend of his. This friend was in our wedding. I became friends with his wife. We all used to hang out when we lived in Chicago. Then they moved to Ohio, then to England and then back to Ohio. In the meantime, we moved to North Carolina. We lost touch after our move here. They were going through some stuff and probably going to move again so she couldn't provide me with a number. Life got busy. Rick and I went through our own trials here in NC and well, six years went by. So Sunday, he asked me to get online and see if I could find his friend.

I found him. And I found something else I was not ready for. His wife died in July. Forty years old and a mom of four. Dead. It hit me hard. Ladies the enemy had her fooled. He made her feel alone. He made her feel like no one knew what she was going through in life. He made her believe her only comfort was to be found in the bottom of a bottle. She believed his cocktail of lies and it killed her. It tore apart her family.

What I struggled with was that I didn't know if she ever accepted The Truth, my Jesus, the Christ. Then I wondered if I had talked about Him enough, presented Him enough when I had the chance. I fear I did not. I will not accept the guilt the enemy has tried to place in my heart and mind. And he is trying extremely hard.

What I will accept is the responsibility to not be ashamed of the gospel. I will acknowledge that as I was deciding if I was even going to submit those book proposals, I wondered if I really wanted to write and not have it marketed toward the Christian market. I liked the idea on the one hand but I also wanted to be a "Christian writer".

Ha! God clearly pointed out to me through the sad news that I am a "Christian writer", whether I write for Christians, seekers or the completely unchurched. Apparently, God was telling me with those book proposals "Yes, you do want to submit those proposals. I have called you to write for people like your friend, who don't really know me. Do you intend to go where I have called you?"

Yes, I do.

Do you intend to go where He has called you?


Be blessed friends! And be a blessing to someone everyday.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Christmas Edition





It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a
FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!



You never know when I might play a wild card on you!











Today's Wild Card author is:





and the book:



The Christmas Edition – first book in The Turtle Creek Edition series

The Wild Rose Press (November 21, 2008)



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




In Robin's words:



I am the Special Education Coordinator for Denton County Juvenile Justice Alternative Program. I work with at risk teens from fifth grade through high school. My husband and I have been married for thirty-one years and we have two grown children. The first two years of marriage, Rick and I traveled overseas as missionaries. Afterwards we served as pastors of a church in Illinois. Presently we live near Dallas, Texas. He is in business and I work for the school system. (My husband still makes yearly mission trips to India.)



To date, my literary works include approximately two hundred articles in magazines such as: Guideposts, Live, Lookout, Mennonite, Christian Reader, Decision, Breakthrough and Christianity Today. Other short stories appear in the books: A Match Made in Heaven, Stories from the Heart, The Evolving Woman, and the New York Times bestseller, In The Arms of Angels by Joan Wester-Anderson. Ann Spangler also used one of my stories in her book, Help! I Can’t Stop Laughing. Another two-dozen stories have been published in the Chicken Soup books. One story, Mom’s Last Laugh, was re-enacted for a PAX-TV program: It’s a Miracle. I co-authored a thriller, The Chase, for Revell. My second book, The Replacement, was released in June 2006. The Candidate was released July, 2007. I continue to publish short stories in magazines. Wildcard, a mystery, will be a spring 2009 release. The Christmas Edition releases Nov. 20. The Valentine Edition releases in January 2009.





Visit the author's
website.



Product Details:



List Price: $ 11.99

Paperback: 236 pages

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press (November 21, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1601543301

ISBN-13: 978-1601543301



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:





December 1



The usual winter blizzard blew into southern



Wisconsin.





Lucy Collins carefully maneuvered her car



through the snow that grew deeper with every gust



of wind. She parked directly in front of her family



owned business, The Turtle Creek Newspaper, just



as her brother, Mike, was making his second pass at



clearing away the snow from the drive with the



snow blower.





“Hey, Mike! Help me carry these inside, will



you?” Lucy called to him as she got out of her heated



car. A sharp wind sucked up her words and nearly



knocked her off balance.





Mike turned off the blower and cupped his hand



around his ear. “What did you say?” His breath



circled around his face in the frigid air.





“Help!” Lucy hollered. She popped the trunk and



pivoted her body in an exaggerated fashion-the way



models do when showcasing prizes on a game show.



She stepped to the other side and waved her hands,



palms up, along the food trays and her mother’s



crystal punch bowl set. Then she flashed her



younger brother her biggest smile.





Mike galloped up to the car just as another gust



of wind, hammered snow at them. “It’s freezing out



here! Even my nose hairs are frozen solid. You go on



in. I’ll get these as soon as I’m finished shoveling the



walk.”





“Thanks.” Lucy gave him a kiss on the cheek. To



keep her balance, she gingerly walked across the



crunchy ice crystals and into the warm building.



Once inside, she tugged off one boot and then the



other, dropping them under her desk. She hung her



coat and scarf on the back of her swivel chair as she



looked around at the decorations of wreaths and



holly. A sprig of mistletoe hung over the empty desk



at the back. That would surely go to waste. Music



played loudly from her dad’s old stereo inside his



office.





Christmas used to be her favorite holiday, but



after a disastrous end to her engagement, a couple of



years ago, this particular holiday now only served as



a dark reminder of broken promises. With prayer



and a loving family, Lucy was ready to start her life



again, which meant buying her own place right after



the first of the year. Working and living with the



same people was often stifling, especially when



they’re her parents.





Lucy’s mom was the cheerleader as well as the



gopher, making sure everyone had what they



needed, whereas Lucy’s father focused persistently



on getting the next edition out and on time.



Each year at Christmastime, however, Harold



Collins took off his publisher hat and donned



something completely different. The weeks wedged



between Thanksgiving and Christmas became about



assisting others. She loved it all and nothing could



ever take her away from this life.





The employees had finished packing up the last



of the boxes from the food drive which were now



stacked neatly, ready to be dropped off at area



shelters. Lucy wanted to acknowledge all the work



they’d done. “For a small cluster of people, we sure



accomplish a truckload of work, fast! These



donations will help many people down and out this



holiday season. Like all the other years we’ve



worked closely together and done a great job.”



Christmas was about unbridled joy but today, try as



she may, she still wasn’t feeling it. Maybe she could



fake it for everyone’s sake. Lucy lowered her head in



modesty and stated, “This is going to be a Christmas



of miracles.”





As if releasing faith into the air, everyone began



to punctuate her words with applause. Right on cue,



Harold Collins stepped out of his office wearing a hat



something like one of the elves might wear. He even



bobbed his head up and down to show off the cluster



of bells that dangled at the tip of the loopy crown.



Lucy couldn’t help but have her first laugh of the



day, along with the other employees.





“I know it’s still over a month until Christmas



but I thought you could use this now,” Harold said as



he produced a fan of festive red and green envelopes.





Squeals of delight resonated as they opened the



envelopes and saw the amount written on the checks



but none was as loud as Ulilla Langston. Lucy’s dad



had inherited her along with the paper when her



grandpa died. Ulilla was a beautiful, black woman



with hair swept close to her head in a French twist.



She carried weight around the place both literally



and figuratively.





“Harold and Margaret Collins,” she crowed, as



her hand fluttered to her chest. “No way can you



afford to give us this.”





“Nonsense!” Harold blustered, and politely



dismissed her words of protest with a wave. “It



should be three times this and you know it! You all



have worked effortlessly and clocked in many



overtime hours in order to get the newspaper out



each week. I am the one who is grateful. Merry



Christmas!”





The bell above the front door jingled as Mike



walked in balancing the punch bowl along with the



holiday trays. “Where do you want these, sis?”





“Let me help with that.” Lucy took the top two



trays. “Take the rest into the break room. I’ll follow



you in.”





Margaret touched the sleeve of Lucy’s cardigan.





“Have you finished our Christmas cards yet?”





“I started a month ago and finally finished them



last night. Not only did I hand write each one, but



the envelopes are addressed and stamped.”





“Which of the photographs did you decide on?”





“I thought I told you that all ready. Never mind,



there’s one in my desk I’ll show you.” Lucy set down



the trays. From the desk drawer, she took a single



envelope and handed it to her mother. “Here, I was



looking for something that would embody a perfect



form of truth when it comes to Christianity.”





Margaret stared at the card. A country church



was nestled into a hillside surrounded on all sides by



fresh snowfall. Above, the sky was brilliant blue.



Lucy looked over her mother’s shoulder. She



scrunched her face, second-guessing her



photographic choice. “Does it look okay?”





“It’s a whole lot more than okay. This is simply



breathtaking and looks professionally done. Lucy,



you should have put your logo somewhere on this



card so people would be aware that you are the one



who took this photograph of our church.” Margaret’s



eyes glistened.





“Not this time. I want people to focus on the



birth of our Savior and the hope He gives for our



lives. Mom, in the past year, I have become more



appreciative of the upbringing you and Dad gave



Mike and me and how you shared your faith which



has now become mine.” Lucy choked back her tears



and touched the silver cross she always wore at her



neckline.





“Those words are the best gift you could ever



give to me.” Margaret hugged her daughter. “I want



nothing more this season than to see you happy.”



Lucy hugged back tightly. “I’m working hard on



that.”





“Lucy!” Mike called from the break room. “I



thought you said you were following me in. I’m



making a mess of things trying to get the food set



up.”





“Ah, I better go rescue the food from Mike and



start the punch.” Lucy picked up the trays. “By the



way, it’s getting worse outside so could you suggest



to Dad that we better let everyone go home early.”





“I will, but right now, I want to lend you a



hand.”





Lucy and Mike uncovered the trays of fruit,



cheese, and crackers. Margaret took her home baked



pastries from the refrigerator and arranged them on



top of doilies set on antique dessert plates. Mike



dumped plastic forks from the box into a basket and



then tore open the plates while Lucy poured the



punch into the bowl and added scoops of sherbet. “I



think we’re ready.”





Once everyone had gathered in the break room,



Harold asked one and all to join hands. Together



they asked for the Lord’s blessing. Then they dug in;



plates were quickly filled with condiments, the



routine appetizers, rolled pieces of meat, decorated



sugar cookies, and cinnamon rolls. That was just for



starters. Margaret kept laying out more and more



food.





Lucy sat at the edge of her chair and sipped her



cup of punch. It was fun watching everyone enjoy



themselves. She closed her eyes and drank in their



laughter. This is what she needed, to be surrounded



by such love and acceptance.





The employees had all worked for her father for



years, so she not only knew their names but their



spouses and children. This is what she loved about



the business. It wasn’t work. It was family. At times



they even squabbled like it, too.





When there were only a few squares of



cantaloupe and crumbs of her mother’s cake left,



Lucy suggested, “Before we go home for the



weekend, let’s go around the room and name one gift



we want for Christmas. No limitations on the gift.



Miss Ulilla, would you like to start?”





The society column woman was clearly pleased



to go first. In her world, this was the correct order of



the universe and she didn’t even try to suppress her



smile. Instead she brushed crumbs from her bosom,



cleared her throat and stood to her feet. “Since Lucy



removed the limitations, what I really want for



Christmas are tickets for a Caribbean cruise under



my tree this year.”





“That’s sounds exciting. I feel pretty confident



you can talk Abe here into going along with you.”



Lucy gave the elderly custodian a wink. It was no



secret Abe had been after Ulilla for as long as she



could remember, but Ulilla always put him off.



Abe stepped right in without being asked, “The



gift I am wishing for is that I can buy those tickets



for Ulilla. One for her and one for me. Separate



cabins, of course.” He turned beet red.





After the laughter died down, Lucy went on to



ask her best friend, “What about you, Monica?”





“I’m hoping for money. Lots and lots of money.”





“Here I thought you’d ask for perfume. The



French kind,” Mike said. His lips curled into a



slow smile. For the first time, Lucy caught



something in the air between her best friend and her



brother and it wasn’t perfume. French or otherwise.





Harold set down his plastic plate with a hollow



thump. “The gift I want this year cannot be found



under my tree.”





“Harold.” Margaret touched his arm. “This isn’t



the time.”





“I think it is, Maggie. After being a family



owned business for the last fifty years, first with my



Papa and now on my own, it’s no secret I want to



keep that other newspaper from coming here. Living



in a small town like Turtle Creek, we can’t



withstand the extra competition. Heck, we can



barely make it as it is. We need to come up with



some ideas of how we’re going to generate more



sales, increase our advertisers and get more



subscribers.” He pulled off his elf hat and lowered



his eyes. His thumb rubbed a finger as he spoke “Or



this might just be the last time we stand together



like this for Christmas.” To everyone’s dismay,



Harold had spit out his worrying words. They spread



across the room.





Lucy frowned. Everything her dad said was the



truth. They all knew it.





“My turn!” Lucy picked up her father’s hat and



pulled it down over her ears. Everyone laughed. “My



Christmas gift is to hire a new editor who will knock



the socks off our readers with his fresh ideas and



perspective!”





“And how will you know this editor when he



comes through the front door?” Carol from



advertising asked.





“Because…” Lucy tapped her chin in thought.



“The man I have prayed for will write with heart.”



Unexpected tears gathered along the edges of her



eyes. The end of her nose tingled. “Anyone who can



move an audience with words is going to increase



circulation which will attract businesses to grab ad



space and make readers buy our paper.” She touched



her cross. I have my faith in you, Lord.





The front door jingled. Monica looked out into



the office. “Hey, guys, there’s an awesome looking



guy standing at the front counter. I believe Lucy’s



gift just arrived. Quick Lucy, say another prayer



while you have God’s attention.”





Lucy walked out of the break room with



shoulders squared, back straight. There he stood.



Tall, with sandy brown hair and wickedly wonderful



eyes. Cherry cheeks, too, thanks to the frosty



weather. His gray eyes were unsettling. He stood on



one foot and tapped one shoe against the other to



knock off the snow. Then he repeated the process



with the other shoe. Monica was right. He was a



looker.





“How may I help you?” Lucy folded her hands



together and placed them on the counter.





“I’m looking for Lucy Collins.” He stared her in



the eyes.





“You’ve found her.” Lucy heard laughter. She



turned around to see the doorway to the break room



was crowded with faces. All eyes were pinned on



them. Of course, she had to put on a good show for



them. Lucy turned back around and faced him.



Feeling cocky, she said, “I know why you’re here.”





“You do?” he seemed startled.





“Yes, you’re here about the ad I placed in this



week’s paper for an editor.”





His chin dropped and he was speechless for a



moment. “You’re…absolutely right. I did see it



advertised.” The man set his briefcase down and



popped it open. He started shuffling around the



inside of it. Papers rustled. Finally, he looked up



sheepishly. He had worried eyes. “I seem to have



forgotten my resume. Not a good way to start a job



interview. By the way, I’m Joe McNamara.”





Lucy shook his hand and then reached under



the counter for an application. She clamped it down



on a clipboard, slipped a pen underneath and



handed it to him. “I don’t need your resume but I do



need to know if you can write. When you’re done



filling this out, I want you to write an editorial for



me.” She slid a blank piece of paper toward him.





“On what subject?” he scratched the end of his



nose.





“You’re the editor so you get to decide.” She



slapped her hand down on the paper.





Joe nodded and then looked around for a place



to sit. He chose a chair from the waiting area. Lucy



watched him as he read the application and then



thoughtfully filled in the blanks. Every now and



then he looked up and caught her staring at him. He



smiled but she quickly looked away.





The Turtle Creek Newspaper employees began



to quickly leave. “Don’t stay too long, Lucy, or you’ll



be trapped in here for the weekend,” Abe warned her



on the way out. For the first time ever, Ulilla was on



his arm.





“I won’t be much longer. I am dreaming of a cozy



fire with hot chocolate.”





“That’s only one of the things I’m dreaming of!”



Ulilla gushed as she plunged through the doorway.



Shocked over Ulilla’s sudden change of heart, Lucy



couldn’t help but stare.





Finally Joe stood to his feet and handed the



clipboard back to her, the pen returned to the same



position as when she had handed it to him. Now it



was Joe’s turn to slide the paper across the counter



to her. Lucy looked at it. Maybe she missed



something. She flipped it over. Both sides were



blank. She looked at Joe quizzically.





“May I?” he asked nodding toward one of the



computers.





“Be my guest.” Lucy granted permission and



then caught her reflection in a window. She quickly



pulled off the Santa hat. Static electricity popped



around her head like a lightening rod. She knew she



was blushing and really hoped he wouldn’t notice.



Lucy watched as his long fingers flew across the



keyboard. Her keyboard. The tips of the fingers hit



the center of the keys with great accuracy. Tap-tap tap



the keys sank and rose again. She was close



enough to see the words without her glasses and



didn’t see any red squiggly lines. At least the fella



could spell.





“Psst!” Monica called from the break room.



Lucy turned around. “What?” she mouthed



silently.





With frantic movements, Monica motioned for



Lucy to come talk to her. When Lucy walked into the



room, everyone huddled around. “We need details.”





Lucy gave a deep sigh happy to oblige. “His



name is Joe McNamara. According to his



application, he’s from Chicago, so I guess he must be



relocating. He’s trying out for our paper by writing



an editorial for me.”





“Good idea,” Harold said while cramming the



last sugar cookie into his mouth.





“Why would he want to apply for a job with us?”



Mike asked suspiciously as he tied the top of a



plastic garbage bag closed.





“That’s easy to answer. We are the best



newspaper in the entire southern lakes region,”



Harold answered shooting bits of cookie from his



mouth like falling stars.





“Yea, right,” Mike panned as he tossed the bag



on top of the other bags.





“You have to start at a small paper and work



your way up to get into a big city paper,” Monica



explained as she slipped on her winter coat. Then



she winked at Mike. “He’s getting his start right



here with us.”





“Whoa, first I have to hire him, and once he



hears what the pay is, he may just hop back on the



Interstate.”





“Finished,” a male voice spoke.





Everyone turned to look. Joe stood just feet



away, holding his paper out.





Lucy hoped he hadn’t heard everything. She



snatched the paper from him and furrowed her brow.





“That was fast.”





“Not when you have something burning inside



that you feel passionately about.”



She held it between her fingers and read aloud.







Saying Goodbye



by Joseph McNamara








What will I ever do without Cafe Books?



Ever since the announcement that the



independent bookseller was going out of business,



I've been a mess. The big chain stores serve a



purpose, sure, but they don't contain the atmosphere



and warmth that emulates from the owners of Cafe



Books. When I walk into their shop, it's like visiting



family. Mr. and Mrs. Myers always greet me and



everyone, with a genuine smile, and when are they



not armed with a recommendation for a new title



they know I'll enjoy? Just for me. They notice me. Me.



Cafe Books is where I first went whale hunting



with Melville and frog collecting with Steinbeck. How



can I forget all the murderous adventures I shared



with my good friend, Mike Hammer, or faced a scary,



yet Brave New World with Huxley? I’ve read more



than books on the leather sofa at Cafe Books. I've



made friends. Lived a million different lives. Cried



countless tears. And have laughed out loud so often,



and so hard, that my stomach still aches from the



memories alone.





How does one say good bye to such a place?





I started patronizing Café Books just off Kenzie



Avenue in Chicago about two years ago. And so when



the owners announced suddenly it would be going out



of business and closing its door yesterday, I made it a



point to stop by.





The room was busy with faithful shoppers who



felt this place was a stabilizing source in their



community. Lexie Jacobson, a 28-year-old hairstylist



scooped up discount novels and a couple of CDs. “I’m



sure going to miss this place,” she said with a shake



of her head. She was not alone with this feeling.





“It’s hard to find bookstores that are not part of a



national chain,” 35-year-old school teacher



Samantha Jones said with a sigh.





The sentiment was expressed again and again by



dozens of patrons.





In the never ending search for bigger and better,



give me the small and unique. Meet me at Café



Books. Help me say goodbye.







No one spoke. Lucy couldn’t take her eyes from



the page. The words evoked warmth and sentiment.



It was more than she had hoped for. He was it. This



was her Christmas gift.





It wasn’t the first sight of him that did it. It



wasn’t the endearing way he drummed his thigh



with the pen when he was nervously trying to figure



out what to write down on his application that



formed her opinion. Nor even his calm manner as he



slid his fingers across her keyboard that made the



difference. It was his words. These words. They were



simple and brilliant. Words that had taken the



breath from her soul. She looked up at him with new



eyes. He got her—yet how could that happen when



they only met minutes ago.





“Wow,” she gulped.





“Well, it was spontaneous.” Joe uneasily tugged



at his collar. “If I had more time, I could have done



much better.”





They smiled at each other as if there was more



to the words that hung in the air. Her mind was



wandering where it shouldn’t. “I need to clarify



something.”





“Clarify away, Ms. Collins.”





“Lucy.”





“Lucy,” he repeated in a sweet tone.





“Um, we can’t afford to pay you much. It’s



obvious you’re quite gifted so I’m not sure we’re what



you’re looking for in a newspaper.”





“The experience is what is valuable here.”





“How much notice do you need to give your old



place?” Harold stepped forward to ask. “The sooner



you can start the better.”





“Dad!” Lucy cut in as blood rushed to her face.





“Ah, my schedule is pretty well wide open, Sir. I



can start as soon as I’m needed, that is if I am hired.



I really don’t need much—a roof over my head



and...a new start.”





Lucy saw it in his eyes. He wasn’t kidding.





“You know, Harold, there is the small apartment



above our garage. Mr. McNamara could stay there



until he finds another place,” Margaret reminded



him.





“I’ll take it,” Joe was quick to accept.





A gust of wind whipped through the building



when Monica opened the door. “Better get a move



on, people. I just heard on the radio that the



Interstate is closed down. The town is pretty well



socked in. It’s time for us to lock up and head for our



homes. I love you all but no way do I want to be



stuck in here with you.”





Everyone went for their coats.





“I better take you home, so I know you made it



safely,” Mike told Monica.





“If you shovel my walk too, there might be a



reward in it for you,” Monica winked as she nudged



his side with her elbow.





“I love rewards.”





“Mike, don’t be long. There are Christmas boxes



in the attic I need for you to get down for me,”





Margaret said following her son out to the parking



lot. “We’re decorating the tree tonight and you can’t



miss it.” She shut the door behind them.





“Ah, is there something you want me to sign? A



contract or something?” Joe asked, quickly looking



from Harold to Lucy.





“I never thought about a contract,” Lucy said,



wondering if they had anything the resembled a



contract.





“We don’t do contracts here. A shake of my hand



is how I operate.” Harold slid his arm down through



his winter jacket and out the opening. “You better



come along with us. You’ll never get back to the city



tonight.”





With a simple handshake, Lucy Collins’ day took



a new direction.






From the publisher:
Lucy Collins has given up on Christmas since the painful break-up with her fiance. Things only get worse when a large newspaper is about to come to town and threatens the livelihood of their family run business, The Turtle Creek Newspaper. At the staff Christmas party, she makes a wish and what seems like the answer to her prayer walks in the front door to apply for the editor position, which they are hoping will bring new life to the paper. Not only is Joe McNamara a genius when it comes to the written word, but he is also gifted with ideas about keeping the newspaper afloat. However, Joe has a secret of his own that he is keeping from Lucy. If she finds it out, then what looks like a promising relationship will unravel, but it's Christmas time, the season of rebirth and miracles. Will the spirit of celebration be enough to heal two hearts? Or will the reality of deception make this the worst Christmas of all?



From Mari:

This book was an enjoyable read. I loved how realistic Lucy was in terms of how she reacted situations. She was not presented as a "Miss Perfect", which made her easy to relate to as a character. Robin had me going with Joe. I couldn't decide how I felt about him. I guess that is part of what made me read on- so I could make up my mind.

Lucy and Joe's trips to the neighboring towns reminded me of when I visited Gaitlinburg, TN. I could just imagine all the deocrations in town along the streets. What nice memories. If you've ever lived in or visited a small town quite a few memories will flood your heart and mind.


There were some surprise twists in the story, which were quite refreshing. There were a few things that I wished had been fleshed out a bit more. Tht may just be the analyst in me! All in all, I enjoyed the book. Check it out if you want a good but easy read.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My dear sweet friend

I "met" Lynn at Heading Home via Twitter. How wonderful the ways God chooses to work! She has been a blessing to me on several occasions already.

My new friend has bestowed upon me an award. It is the PROXIMITY award.





What this award encompasses is as follows:


“This blog invests and believes in PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”


I hardly feel deserving of it but thank you Lynn. It is much appreciated. You are much appreciated. So now I must choose eight other ladies to receive this award. Only eight is hard but I'm going to just choose. Know that if your name is not on this list, it doesn't mean you're not special to me.

I am not going to give descriptions because I want you to stop by and visit these ladies. I'm sure you'll want to stick around :) They are all blessings to me in their own special way. May they be a blessing to you as well. (And I cheated. I chose nine ladies. Shhh...don't tell)

Lelia at
Write From the Heart

Pamela at
In His Graces

Amy at
In My Life

Jill at
Titus24u

Angie at
The Knightly News

Lisa at
Behind The Eyes

Lea at
Thee Shabby Olde Potting Shed

Laura at
The Wellblog

Lee at
PrayerGifts


Congrats to you all. Enjoy your award. Keep loving on others the way you all do.

Until next post.....be blessed.

Monday, December 1, 2008

So Humbled

Today I received my birthday present from my mom and sister. Now let me say that my birthday was in September. This gift was ordered then but just arrived. And it is a gift that has humbled me.

Several months ago I submitted a devotional for publication in yearly anthology. I was not sure it would be accepted, but to my surprise it was. The payment was one copy of the book, which has one devotional for each day of the year. My mom and sister were so proud of me and happy for me that they ordered......a case! So today, the much anticipated box arrived. My case of Penned from the Heart XV is here.

When it arrived, I opened the box and gingerly took out one copy. I rubbed the cover, which has a beautiful picture of a sunset on it. Just fabulous. I wasn't sure where exactly my devotional was, so I just started reading. I read the note from the editor, Jana Carman. She was fabulous to work with. I then read the note from the publisher, Florence Biros. It was there I learned the list of contributing authors and the location of their devotionals was listed in the back.

With great anticipation, I flipped the book over, started with the last page and feverishly searched for my name. I found it! There was my name, Marietta (Mari) Taylor. After it was the biography I had submitted. I saw my devotional was on January 29. Wow, right in the beginning. I excitedly turned to that page. My first published piece of work. I almost cried. It's one thing to "know" it's going to be published for the first time. It's quite another to see your writing in actual print. Woohoo! I just closed my eyes and breathed in deeply.

My emotions were ones of excitement and humility. Really, who I am that God has allowed me to live a dream I've had since I was seven years old? I am truly humbled. What makes this even more amazing to me is something else that is going on in terms of my writing.

I recently submitted a query to a ministry that has a publishing arm. They expressed interest in the devotional book about which I queried . And... they wanted to know if I was interested in writing a second, complimentary book. I was and I am. So now I am in the midst of writing my first ever book proposals to be submitted by the middle of this month. I will know in January if a contract will be extended.

So, seeing my first work in print right in the midst of trying to move my writing forward was encouraging. God is so, so good. I had been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the book proposals. I feel like God had them arrive today to give me that little bit of encouragement. You know, "Hey, remember me, the God of the universe? I've got you. Just write the vision. Let me handle the rest."

All I can say is, I will. I will. I'll keep you posted on the book proposals. They are in God's hand and He is just so trustworthy. Whatever He chooses, I am okay with it. Again, I'm already humbled by what He has already allowed, so anything further is just, well, fabulous.

I pray you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving! And as always, be blessed as we start this Christmas season.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Enoch

I am once again participating in a First Wild Card Tour. Come along for the ride!

This is the first book by Alton Gansky I've ever read. I'm wondering why. Enoch was fabulous. The action moved at a good pace. There were many twists and turns, which made it exciting to read. The story line, while supernatural, made you wonder if this could really happen. After all, anything is possible when God is involved.

There were a few places where I was easily able to figure out what was going to happen but then there was always a little twist. I like it when books are not totally predictable. This one was not. Gold star.

The one scene where they were interviewing Noel literally took my breath away. I was so shocked, I had to put the book down and get my composure. It was a powerful scene and message. Platinum star. Also, pay close attention to the ending. There is a message there for all of us.

I highly recommend this book if you like action thrillers. Good read. Now enjoy the first chapter.








It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!



You never know when I might play a wild card on you!











Today's Wild Card author is:





and the book:



Enoch

Realms (October 2, 2008)



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Alton Gansky is the author of twenty-one published novels and six nonfiction works. He has been a Christie Award finalist (A Ship Possessed) and an Angel Award winner (Terminal Justice). He holds a BA and MA in biblical studies and has served as senior pastor for three Baptist churches in California, with a total of over twenty years in pulpit ministry. He and his wife live in the High Desert area of Southern California.



Visit the author's
website.



Product Details:



List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 307 pages

Publisher: Realms (October 2, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 159979344X

ISBN-13: 978-1599793443



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:





He first thought of his feet.



It seemed an odd first thought, but there it was. His gaze drifted to a pair of soft-topped shoes, each with a symbol stitched to the side.



"N." He wondered why anyone would stitch a letter on footwear.



He raised a foot, then wiggled it. The shoe felt good. He dug a toe in the sandy dirt, then raised his head. A field surrounded him. No crops, no buildings, no people. Just a wide expanse of rugged scrub that shivered in the cold wind.



A full-circle turn revealed nothing but the same: miles of empty land. He blinked against the wind and the bits of dirt and dust it carried. To the west the sun lowered itself to the horizon. In the opposite direction, darkness crawled up the sky, keeping pace as if the descending orb pulled a curtain of night behind it.



Turning to face the sun again, he saw a break in the expanse of near-barren ground. At its edge ran a thin fence. He moved toward it, amused at the soft crunch the earth made with each step of his N-shoes.



Something scampered to his right. A covey of quail sprinted away and then took to the air, flying a short distance before making contact with the earth again. The sight made him smile.



Henick wrapped his arms around himself to ward off the chilling breeze. The material of his multicolored shirt felt soft against his arms and palms. He kept his gaze down, protecting his eyes from the sun's glare and looking up only long enough to get his bearings and check for holes or rocks that might cause him to stumble.



The fence was a simple series of metal stakes supporting four strands of metal wire punctuated with evenly spaced barbs. He extended a finger, touched one of the points, and frowned. The knife-sharp tip drew a drop of blood. He stuck the offended finger in his mouth. A quick scan of the fence's length revealed no gate.



A short distance from the fence ran a wide, smooth, black surface with a series of white dashes down the middle. He marveled at its unerring straightness.



He returned his attention to the fence. He wanted to be on the other side but preferred to arrive there with skin and clothing intact. Placing a hand on the top strand, he pushed down. The metal wire moved, but not enough to make straddling the thing acceptable. He tried again, this time using both hands. The wire fence gave more but still too little.



Henick decided on a different approach. He stepped to the nearest metal upright and tested it. It looked old, as if it had spent a lifetime stuck in that one spot. Seizing it with both hands and careful to avoid the stinging wire, he shook the thin metal pole. It wiggled. He leaned into it and then pulled back, repeating the motion twenty or thirty times. The metal felt cold against his bare hands, and gritty rust tinted his flesh.



When he had worked the pole loose, he lifted its base from the ground, then moved to the next upright and reenacted the procedure. With two posts loose, Henick could step across the barrier without injury.



Once on the other side, he replaced the posts, stomping the surrounding dirt with his foot until the soil was as compact as he could make it. In time, weather would reseal the posts to their original strength.



The exertion had warmed him enough to raise a film of perspiration on his brow and beneath the black hair that hung to his shoulders. The breeze found each moist area and chilled it. He could expect a cold night.



Stepping to the middle of the black path, he bent and touched the surface. It appeared smooth but felt coarse beneath his fingers. The black material radiated gentle warmth. He straightened and looked up and down the long road. It seemed to have no end in either direction. Deciding that one direction was as good as the other, Henick began to walk, choosing his course so the wind would be at his back and not in his face.



When the last of the sun's disk fell beneath the horizon, Henick had made two or three miles. He passed the time by counting the white dashes in the middle of the strange path or wondering about the letter N on his shoes. He liked the shoes; they made walking easier.



A quarter moon replaced the sun in the sky but offered little light. Soon the final light would follow its source below the distant horizon. If he had remained in the open field, he would have had to stop his journey. Walking over uncertain and irregular terrain with no light would be foolish, but the hard path with its white lines made it possible for him to continue.



Just before the sun said its final good-bye, Henick saw a black and white sign with a puzzling, irregular shape and the words Ranch Road 1232. Sometime later he saw a sign that read Don't Mess with Texas.



The air moved from chilly to cold, but the breeze had settled.



Henick kept moving.



Lights and a rumble approached from behind. The light split the darkness and gave Henick a shadow that stretched impossibly long before him. He stopped and turned, raising a hand to shield his eyes against the glare.



The roar grew louder. The lights neared.



A sudden blaring assaulted his ears, but Henick stood his ground.



"What are you? Nuts?"



The voice came from behind the glare. A large metal device pulled alongside. The words pickup truck entered Henick's mind.



The vehicle stopped. "Have you plumb lost your mind, boy? I coulda run you down and not even known I hit ya. What are you thinking?"



In the dim light, Henick could see two people seated in the truck: a man in his sixties and a woman of the same age.



"Go easy on him, Jake. He looks confused. Maybe he's lost." The woman's voice rode on tones of kindness.



"That it, boy? You lost?"



"I am just walking," Henick said.



"In the dark? Where you headed?"



Henick thought for a moment. "That way." He pointed down the long stretch of road.



"Ain't nuthin' that way but Blink, and there ain't much reason for going there unless that's your home. I'm guessin' it ain't. Pretty small town; I think I'd have seen you before."



"I don't live there."



The man the woman called Jake exited the truck and eyed Henick. "It's a bit cold to be out in nuthin' but blue jeans and a flannel shirt. It's supposed to drop into the forties tonight."



"It is true. I am cold."



"Give him a ride, Jake." The woman had slid closer to the driver side door. "We can't leave him out here. He's liable to step in some pothole and break a leg."



"More likely he'd step on a rattler. They like the warm asphalt."



"Either way, Jake, we can't leave the man out here."



"All right, all right, just keep your shoes on." Jake looked at Henick. "Turn around."



Henick raised an eyebrow.



"Turn around, boy. I jus' wanna make sure you ain't packin'."



"Packin'?"



"Totin' a gun. You sure you haven't wandered off from some kinda home for the slow?"



"Jake!"



"All right, Eleanor, I don't mean no disrespect." He motioned for Henick to turn in place. Henick did. "OK, here's the deal. I'll give you a ride, but that's all. Me and the wife were going into town for a meal. Friday night is our evening out. Been doing that for thirty-five years."



"I would like a ride."



"Yeah, well, don't have no room for you up front, so you'll have to ride in the back. I got some blankets to keep the wind off you. It's the best I can offer."



"Thank you." Henick climbed into the bed of the truck and leaned against the cab.



"Blankets are behind my seat. I'll get 'em."



A few moments later, Henick, snug in two wool blankets, turned his face heavenward, gazed at the stars, and wondered what a "Texas" was.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Truth Heals

Well it's our last chapter of Lisa Whittle's book Behind Those Eyes. This has been a fabulous and life-changing book. I am sad to send it end. Lisa did a wonderful job with this book, allowing God to use her to get after us about "the hard stuff". Thank you Lisa for your obedience!

I know this post is really late, but that's what happens when your Internet connection goes bye-bye for no apparent reason. So without further ado, let's wrap up. Remember all items in orange are direct quotes from Lisa.

"The truth is, in one way or another, we all show people the "us" we want them to see." You know, like when you are yelling at your kids and the phone rings. You don't answer it and growl "Hello" in to the receiver. Oh no. You put on your sweetest, most syrupy voice so you appear calm, cool and collected. Or how about when you and your husband had a disagreement on the way to the small group get- together and when you arrive, you act like he's the love of your life. You want to strangle his neck, but no one will ever know that if they are waiting for you to reveal it to them. These are just small examples but you get my drift. We all do it.

But aren't we supposed to be trying to be more authentic and real to people? That's my goal. Is it yours? If so then we need to embrace and live out the truth. What is the truth? Well Lisa laid it out very plainly for us.

Truth #1: Recognition

God created you exactly the way you are, with your unique personality and temperament, since He is incapable of making a mistake.

So that means He meant to give you that curly hair, freckles, wide hips, or crooked teeth. He knew exactly what He was doing when He made you impatient, shy, outspoken, compassionate, math savvy or forgetful. Quit being stressed out, angry or sad about it. He absolutely, unequivocally right "on the money" with how He made you.

Honey, if He made you exactly the way you wanted to be, would you depend on Him for anything? Would you want His presence the way you do now? I bet not. You'd be too busy admiring how great you were. Personally, I'd rather have more of God and less of Mari. Really.


Truth #2: Admission

God created you with a free will to choose your behavior and mess up your life.

Yeah and we do such an excellent job of messing up our lives. From time to time I wax nostalgic. I try not to do it often because there is a lot I'd like to forget. Stupid decisions, silly mistakes. I am still living with the consequences of a few of those. Lisa tells us that "God is quick not only to forgive us; He is quick also to restore us." And thank Him for that. I've been restored so many times. I am so grateful for that part of who God is to me, to us.

What's even better, He not only restores us but "God often uses broken people - the people with the most baggage - for His honor and glory." Think about it. Who better to help you in your situation than someone who has walked through it, been forgiven and restored and is now available to you by God's grace and design. Don't tell me God doesn't know what He is doing. He surely does.

Truth #3: Resolution

God created us to discern and discover who we are and where we function most effectively, without trying to be someone else.

Can I be honest? I no longer care to use my precious energy to attempt impersonation. It's enough work just being me. Add in trying to be someone else and you might as well just lay me out on the sofa for the rest of my life. Since God made me the way I am, I think I'll just let Him decide what to change and when to change it. If he chooses not to, then I need to spend my energy saying "Lord help me accept your decision." That's a much better use of time because it draws me closer to Him.

When it's all said and done, here is what is left. I am, you are, we are "completely flawed yet forgiven completely; an awesome spirit being, truly loved and accepted by God."

Go forth ladies and be YOU. And be blessed by the the Truth, Jesus the Christ.

****Stop by Lelia's for more insight on this closing chapter. You'll be able to check out the next study that begins January 6, 2009.*****




Thursday, November 13, 2008

Title Trakk Book Tour

Welcome to the 1st ever
TitleTrakk.com Blog Tour!


This week we're chatting about:



The Fantastic Fall Giveaway Contest!


Just in time for the holidays, you could win over
$335 worth of books, cds and dvds!

Sponsored by our friends at:


The Grand Prize Winner will receive:

BOOKS:

Whispers of the Bayou by Mindy Starns Clark
Rachel's Secret by BJ Hoff
Beach Dreams by Trish Perry
Playing God by Michelle McKinney Hammond
White Soul by Brandt Dodson
The Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka
Finding Marie by Susan Paige Davis
The Power of Praying Through the Bible by Stormie Omartian
A Man After God's Own Heart by Jim George
Evidence for Faith 101 by Bruce Bickel & Stan Jantz

CDS:

Wake Up! Wake Up! by Everyday Sunday
Rock What You Got by Superchick
Sunday by Tree63
Houston We Are Go by Newsboys (Live CD/DVD)
Nothing Left To Lose by Mat Kearney
I Am Free Worship Collection
Salvation Station by Newworldson
Not Without Love by Jimmy Needham
Pages by Shane & Shane
Colors and Sounds by Article One

MOVIES:

Love's Unfolding Dream
The Ten Commandments Animated
Between the Walls

But that's not all!
We're giving away even more!


During this blog tour (November 10th - 16th) we'll be drawing 2 winners daily from the contest entries to win an additional free book or cd!

Visit the TitleTrakk.com Contest page today to enter the contest and place yourself in the running to receive the Grand Prize, plus all the daily prizes! Deadline to enter is November 17th.

About TitleTrakk.com:
Founded in 2006 by Tracy & C.J. Darlington, TitleTrakk.com is an interactive website spotlighting Christian books, music & movies. Updated weekly, we feature author and musician interviews, album and book reviews, music videos, movie reviews and interviews, book excerpts, surveys, polls, and fun contests. Learn more: http://www.titletrakk.com/

**************************************

I encourage everyone to stop by TitleTrakk. I *heart* this website something fierce. It has everything you need for your Christian entertainment needs. Did you take a good look at the prizes in the giveaway? SHUT UP!

Hurry on over and enter ~ it is so worth your while. Then hang out and look around. Get cozy. You will enjoy it. I promise! And if you win, I might want to borrow a book or three :) because I am a voracious reader. I promise I'll send them back. Now shoo - go enter the giveaway!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Completely Flawed Yet Forgiven Completely

Wow - what a title. What a concept! I'm talking about Lisa Whittle's book Behind Those Eyes that we've been studying for several weeks. All bold orange text are direct quotes from Lisa.

Lisa states "It's an absolute truth that we women, as people and as followers of Christ, are completely flawed and yet completely forgiven." Completely flawed. Yes that would be me. Completely forgiven. Praise God, that's me too. At the same time.

One year, the leader of a bible study I was in, made keepsake books for us. Each member had to write something positive about each of the other ladies in the group. She then had someone write these comments and verses in a wonderful scrapbook for us. As I read through the comments on each page, all I could think was, "Wow, is this what they see?" I was blown away. Much of what was written was probably really true. But much of what was not written was also true.

What things? Things like I've been in the pit. Many times. I've been in deep ones, shallow ones and wide ones. Heck, I've even dug the pit and leapt in with both feet and with eyes W I D E open.

I'm not perfect. No one is - except Jesus. It's good to know the good things about yourself. But it's also good to be aware of those rooms that we either need to unlock so Jesus can get in and make assessment of how much redecorating is needed or ones where we need to ask Him to please do some spring cleaning.

I don't mind being flawed. I mean I hate it in its truest sense because it's sin. However I don't mind it because it keeps me on my knees, pressed in to my LORD. Lisa expressed it so well when she said "For if there were no flaw, there would be no reason for forgiveness. And then we wouldn't get to see the awesome power of God miraculously at work in our lives." I'll just add a big AMEN!

Ladies, despite the sin I've been in, the pits I've sat in, the mud and muck I've been mired in, I'm forgiven. And guess what? You are too! Beth Moore often says no one has been in a bigger pit of sin. I often say "Ah sweet Beth, I'm just not so sure. I've lived me for 43 years. I'm not sure you can claim that one." Not that it's worth claiming anyway, other than to let people realize that God can forgive anything. Anything? Yes.

I'm reminded of the commercial where the lady is with her friends and they are admiring some decorating she's done. They're looking at the "do-it-yourself" book asking her if she did that. And she responds I did that, with this (referring to book). And then the conversation goes some thing like this.

"What about that?

" Yes that"

"And that?"

"That."

"Even that?"

"Even that!"

I imagine us asking Jesus if He can forgive that thing we did. And He says, "Yes I can forgive that."

"Well Lord, what about that? Surely you can't forgive me for that."

"Yes, I can forgive that too."

"And that ?" (referring Him to yet another major transgression)

"That too"

Saving the biggest, doosiest (yes I made that word up just now) sin for last, we think we've found something He can't forgive. So we gingerly point it out. And we whisper, "Lord, even that?"

Triumphantly, He holds out His nail ridden hands and bows His head towards His nail ridden feet and He boldly professes, "Even that!"

"Jesus Christ loves and forgives you without conditions. Period."

He forgives it all. Even that.

"While Satan would love for you to believe that you are to flawed and too unworthy of forgiveness, Jesus wants you to know that nothing could be farther from the truth."
Again I say, AMEN.

I leave you tonight with a song. I thought of it as soon as I saw the verse, Psalm 103:12. I knew I would include a video of it. Imagine my delight, seeing it referenced by Lisa in the study questions.

Listen and know that, yes, you are completely flawed. But moreover, you are forgiven completely.

Be sure to stop by Lelia's and read more insight on this chapter. You will surely be blessed, as is my prayer for you always.

"As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us" Psalm 103:12