Thursday, October 22, 2020

Guest Author: Tori Higa

 I want to share another great author and fun book with you.


Inspiration can be fickle.  It never seems to strike when you are looking for it.  It can come at inconvenient times.  But what do you do when inspiration strikes?  Do you ignore it or do you listen to it? If you choose to listen, it might take you to some uncomfortable places. In my case, inspiration came in the form of a poem.  I never considered myself to be a writer so taking this step was a leap of faith.  But in the end, I had no choice but to create. 

I was sitting in church one Sunday morning during the Christmas season when something was triggered inside of me.  After the sermon that day, I told my husband I wanted to write a children’s book about the meaning of the color red at Christmastime to help point kids to Jesus.  I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I was going to make it happen.  I was an artist by nature but writing was way out of my comfort zone.  Despite all the doubts, I knew I had to try.  I couldn’t get the idea out of my head that entire day.  Early the next morning while I was lying in bed somewhere in-between being asleep and awake, the words of a poem came to me and I started writing on the notepad I keep at my bedside table. I was in the flow and I couldn’t stop.  Before I knew it, I was finished with a draft of The Christmas Color.  It was a strange but amazing feeling because I had never experienced anything remotely like that before.  At the same time, I felt like it was a gift and meant to be.  Like so many times in life, I had to get through the “uncomfortable” to get to the good parts.  But in the end, I feel truly blessed to have gone through that process.


Tori Higa is inspired by her faith, family & friends, coffee shops & people- watching, and all things vintage. She has always loved making art and recently began pairing her hand-crafted pictures with the stories she writes to share with young kids. She considers it a high honor to make books to inspire kids and encourage their faith journey. She currently lives in California with her husband, two kids, and a puppy named Edie. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Guest Author: Janet L. Christensen


Christmas, the Messiah, and an Adorable Little Cricket

I have always loved Christmas.  Tiny twinkle lights, the smell of homemade caramel corn, and Christmas carols have a way of imparting a special kind of joy that fills my spirit up to the very brim.  But it is all just icing on the cake compared to the most wonderful gift of all.  The Messiah.  The newborn babe.  Hope for a troubled world, sleeping in a manger.  Of all of the gifts we receive, this is the one to cherish and share with everyone we meet.  That is why I wrote my book, Cairo’s Christmas Journey…to share the story of God’s presence and help for us on our journey with the youngest generation.

Cairo the Cricket is a gifted musician and his friends, the shepherds, love his music.  His lullabies can relax even the rowdiest sheep.  But on that special Christmas Eve, he has been given a very different job from one of the angels that visited his shepherd friends in the field—to play a lullaby for the newborn King.  How can a tiny cricket make it all the way to Bethlehem, when dangers lurk around every corner?  From irate birds to a sticky situation with an ant hole, Cairo’s journey seems impossible.  But nothing is impossible with God.

Along the way, Cairo learns that God is with us in our toughest journeys, sending helpers to share their gifts with us along the way.  But can Cairo’s new friends help him get all the way to Bethlehem in time to play his special song?  This is a sweet story with an amazing message of God’s presence in even the toughest journeys.

2020 has been a tough journey for a lot of us.  New uncertainties and processes for us all create special challenges for our kids, grandkids and great grandkids.  What better time than now to reassure them all that God is with us all on every journey we take, sending helpers to assist us along the way.  What a precious message and reminder for us all!

Cairo’s Christmas Journey releases on October 27.  It will be available online at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and most of your favorite booksellers.


Janet L Christensen is an award-winning writer, speaker and encourager that loves to captivate audiences with inspiring stories.  Whether it is with the stories she writes or with the stories she tells with the help of one of her puppet friends, Janet is sure to deliver an entertaining message of hope and love.

Janet was born and raised in rural South Dakota and after spending some time living and adventuring in Idaho and Wyoming, she and her family have returned to the place of their roots.  When she is not writing, she enjoys living the life of a pastor’s wife and leading children’s or women’s ministry projects.  She is the proud mother of two teenage sons and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Sully.




Friday, October 9, 2020

Sweet Memories, I Needed These Smiles

September 11, 1997: Rebecca was complaining about her leg hurting tonight. I told her it was growing pains. Frustrated, she said, "Well, this is the one that always hurts. Is it going to be bigger than the other one?"


September 14, 1997: Last night Rebecca said, "When I grow up, I'm going to kill a big bug and cut off its face and save its eyes for a treasure."


September 18, 1997: Rebecca said that Sarah wanted to sit with her friends on the bus instead of with Rebecca. She said, "Sarah never sits with me. It breaks my heart when she won't sit with me."


September 19, 1997: As usual, the girls were fighting tonight after they went to bed. Sarah came and told me something Rebecca did to her, and then Rebecca came and told me something Sarah did to her. I told Rebecca to be quiet and go to bed, and as she went she said unhappily, "She got to tell on me, and I don't get to tell on her -- that's not fair!"


September 30, 1997: When Murray and the kids are driving, sometimes they see and count horses. Murray likes to tease them by pointing to any other object -- a cow, a house, a hay bale, etc. -- and say, "Let's count that as a horse, too." The other day the kids were getting ready for school. I told Sarah something to do that she didn't want to do, and I had to keep telling her, so she was upset with me. Finally she said, "Mom, I'm going to count you as a horse."


October 6, 1997: Whenever I ask Rebecca if she doesn't think Benjamin is the cutest baby in the world, she replies, "The baby across the street is cuter."


Murray told the kids all about the Promise Keepers assembly in Washington, D.C., from the meals to the music to the subway ride. He asked, "Does anyone have any questions?" Caleb said, "I have a question. How fast do the trains go?"


October 10, 1997: While we were waiting for the bus this morning, Caleb said, "Sometimes I can feel myself grow if I stand really still."


This morning the three little rascals were playing while waiting for the bus. Caleb was Sarah's son, and she left him with Rebecca at church, because Rebecca was his Bible Schoolteacher. Later Rebecca was going to visit Sarah and Caleb in their home. She called them for directions. Sarah said, "Go straight on the street from the church and--" Rebecca said, "I'm not at the church; I'm at my house." Sarah didn't miss a beat. "Go to the church. Take the road straight, turn left, then right..."


October 23, 1997: Murray was cutting fingernails and toenails tonight. Caleb, when he was referring to getting his toenails cut, said, "Daddy, hang me upside down and do it."


Tonight we gave Ping-Hwei the car keys, and asked him to put something in the car. He walked toward the door, jingling the keys and said, happily, "Good-bye!"


October 25, 1997: Tonight at supper, I asked Ping-Hwei to help me carry the plates to the table. For some reason, I had it in my mind that he should only carry one at a time. I noticed that he had two, and I asked, "Ping-Hwei! Do you have two plates?" "I have two," he replied reasonably, "I have two hands."


Later at supper, Caleb said, out of the blue, "What?" I asked what he was talking about, and he answered, "I'm not talking to you; I'm talking to somebody in my head."


November 3, 1997: The other night, we stopped by the grocery store, and Sarah asked, "Do the people who work here at night get to sleep?"


The other morning, Sarah told me, "I had a dream that Daddy bought a can of soup, but when he opened it, frogs jumped out instead."


November 5, 1997: At a party last week, Rebecca won for a prize a model of an eye, with wiggly parts inside. She asked Murray what the parts were, including the iris, retina, etc. Last, she asked, "What are these veiny things?” When she practices the piano, Murray usually sits with her and watches to help her. This afternoon, I asked Rebecca to practice her piano lessons. She said, "I need someone to watch me while I practice, so I'll get my eyeball."     

Friday, October 2, 2020

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus


When my daughter talks to me about her fears for her future in our current world, I feel at a loss at how to comfort her.


Of course, the coronavirus. Natural disasters. Politics. The economy. Fighting, verbally and physically, between many groups in our country. As well as our nation’s place in the world.


So much to fear.


I’m afraid too.


I strive to cling to my faith in God’s protection. And that’s what I want to share with my children.


Though things may get worse or better in our world, we will never be satisfied by the hope we can find here. As Christians, we should always be good citizens of the world, but it can never fully give us peace.


I want to say, “Draw closer to the Word of God, and find his immeasurable hope there. Put your trust in Jesus first always.”


He does not promise us an easy time in this world, though he often gives us great beauty and joy here. But Jesus does promise to stand with us and help us if we will turn to him.


Matthew 11:28-30:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,

for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”


Isaiah 41:13:

 “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you,

‘Do not fear, I will help you.’”


1 Peter 5:7:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.


Psalms 40:1-2:

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.



Friday, September 25, 2020

Live Forgiven

God is teaching me to live like I’m forgiven.


I recently read a book by Max Lucado in which he said because of Calvary, we can make choices. He reminded me that I can choose to live forgiven.


I struggle to leave behind the things I did in the past. I sorrow over them. How can I share with others the joy of god’s mercy this way?


I have begged for forgiveness, and God promises to forgive. This is a promise I can accept.


1 John 1:9:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 


God’s Word commands us to forget the past so He can do something new and wonderful in our lives.


Isaiah 43:18-19:

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”


Philippians 3:13-14:

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.


I can’t forget my sins, but God promises that He has.


Isaiah 43:25:

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”


Psalm 103: 12: 

as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.


This is a battle against Satan which God yearns to help me win.


1 Peter 5:8:

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.


Psalm 51 is such a comfort to me.


David committed adultery, then tried to cover it up by committing murder. He and his wife had to suffer the loss of a child through all of this.


But David didn’t give up. In Psalm 51, he writhes over sin he has committed. He pleads for God’s help, His forgiveness, and to have the joy of his salvation restored.


Psalm 51:1, 12-13, 17:

 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.


David knew that God would accept the plea of a truly repentant heart. And he knew that forgiveness was the best motivation for him to share God’s love with others.


And what wonderful grace God shows David.


Acts 13:22:

After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’


Father, I pray for the trust of David. Help me to accept Your mercy and joyfully share Your love with those around me.                 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Psalm 119:137-144 Tsadhe

צ Tsadhe

You are righteous, Lord,

    and your laws are right.

The statutes you have laid down are righteous;

    they are fully trustworthy.

My zeal wears me out,

    for my enemies ignore your words.

Your promises have been thoroughly tested,

    and your servant loves them.

Though I am lowly and despised,

    I do not forget your precepts.

Your righteousness is everlasting

    and your law is true.

Trouble and distress have come upon me,

    but your commands give me delight.

Your statutes are always righteous;

    give me understanding that I may live.


“Father, I can never express enough how thankful I am for your word. Through all my hard times and sorrows, through every struggle and uncertainty, I find hope from you in the pages of my Bible.                                     Strengthen me, Lord, and use me to bring hope to others.” 

Friday, September 11, 2020

Sweet Memories, Made Me a Little Teary

July 22, 1997: Sarah cleaned up all the toys in the basement by herself, and then told Kathy, "I'm so proud of myself."

July 25, 1997: Last night Sarah said, "I love Jesus so much, I just can't say how much."

The other day, in the midst of our ant infestation, Ping-Hwei was filling some ice trays at the sink. With disgust in his voice, he cried to Kathy, "What! Counter! Animals!"

August 1, 1997: When Sarah's not having a fun time, she says, "I'm a little bit boring." When Rebecca thinks a day is not fun, she says, "This day is bored."

Sarah asked to have some of Murray's exotic mocha coffee, and Murray said she could have a little. Sarah told him, "I'll be sorry if I forget and drink it all."

Caleb had a hamburger with the works for supper, pretty potentially messy. When Murray handed Caleb the sandwich he told him not to put it down until he was done eating it. Caleb replied, "Look, Daddy, I'm going to throw it up in the air!"

August 20, 1997: Yesterday, Ping-Hwei asked why our cats have four feet. I said that they're animals, and many animals have four feet. He said, "I want four feet."

Sarah just asked me to get her the toy dishes to play with. As I walked with her to get them off the shelf, she said, "I'm smiling, because I'm a cute little girl."

August 24, 1997: In the car the other day, we were eating bagels. Rebecca looked at her cherry bagel and said, with serious intent, "I like the ones with hair all over them."

August 25, 1997: Rebecca stayed with Grandma this week. On the way home yesterday, Sarah said a little sadly, "Benjamin looks sad; maybe he's missing Rebecca playing with him." I thought maybe Sarah was missing Rebecca too.

August 29, 1997: Sarah had an ouchy which was irritating her, and she said in frustration, "I wish we were in Heaven!" Caleb agreed, "No crying, no sad, no mad, no dying."

Today was a freshman orientation day at Ping-Hwei's high school. I asked him what he did at school today, and he replied, "I had ice cream.”

September 1, 1997: Sarah was saying that at school, she was going to remember to pray to herself at lunch, and Caleb said, "Last year, I'd start to open my lunchbox, and God would remind me, 'Don't forget to pray.'"

September 3, 1997: Last night, Sarah said that a little boy named Caleb in her class was singing Celebrate Jesus, and I said he probably loves Jesus. She said, "Well, I asked him, and he didn't say anything." Last week she told me that in a doctor's waiting room once, she asked a little boy if he loved Jesus, and he told her not to talk about that sissy stuff. I told her she's a good missionary.

In a long line of traffic, Sarah said, "Why do you stop if there's no stop light?" Murray said, the light is way up ahead, but what would you want me to do with the cars in front of me, anyway? She said, "You could go, bump."

September 6, 1997: Sarah is talking a lot like us. Today she was talking to Ping-Hwei, and said, "Caleb, Ping-Hwei, whoever you are..."

September 7, 1997: Murray is making sub sandwiches for supper. He asked Rebecca what she wanted on hers, and she replied, "I want everything but onions and ointment." Murray asked, Ointment? "Yeah, like catsup." Ah, condiments.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Cry Out To Jesus

There was a song a few years back called “Cry Out to Jesus.” I was reminded of this song recently.

When I’m feeling down, not about any one thing in particular, but just about many things, I want to cry.

My husband wants to comfort me. I feel ashamed to share it with my children or my friends. I want to weep and sob, but what can they do for me? What can they say?

I’m a mess, and I fear sharing this depth of sadness with people.

But I can cry out to Jesus.

God invites me to share the depth of my pain, even if I don’t understand it, with him. He can take it. He wants to. He cares for me.

Hebrews 4: 16:
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Psalm 56: 8:
You keep track of all my sorrows.
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book.

1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Third Day - Cry Out To Jesus (Official Video) – YouTube

Friday, August 28, 2020

Let Us Listen

Micah 6:8:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

One thing I’ve heard more than once, when the problems of racial injustice in America are discussed, is that the church has not stepped up and helped as we should.

After the horrible things that have gone on this summer, I wanted to be a part of the church that would help. An important step, I believe, is to listen to what people have to say. Below is a note from my friend Stats Ky Bey.

We have more in common than we realize. We share the anatomy of eyes, fingers, toes. We share the desire for family, friends, home. We share the need for a father, protector, provider. And, most importantly we all need a Savior.

So, let’s think about these common needs as we think about that a man was shot seven times in the back. And, before we add the imaginary differences found in our psychology, what do we think about the fact that a man was shot seven times in the back.

If you are like me, you may be thinking, “Why wasn’t one shot enough?” And, if you are like me, you may be wondering, “Why wasn’t two times enough?” And, if you are like me, you may be wondering, “Why wasn’t three times enough?” And, if you are like me, you may be wondering, “Why wasn’t four times enough?” And, if you are like me, you may be wondering, “Why wasn’t 5 times enough?” And, if you are like me, you may be wondering, “Why wasn’t 6 times enough?”

And if you are like me, you may be wondering “Why was this man shot seven times in the back?”
We have more in common than you think.

Now, if you are not like me, you may be thinking, “That man should have been shot more than seven times in the back, good riddance!” And, if this is the case, let’s add in the biases of race, status, education, position, authority, and everything else that will stop us from asking the hard question of, “Why was a man shot seven times in the back?”

Key words to consider here? They are man, shot, seven, times, and back.

Is the issue with the word man? Maybe not every man, or every life, is seen as equally valuable? What do you think? Is every man, life, valuable?

Is the issue with the word shot? Does everyone who can shoot have the right to shoot? Does the freedom to shoot outweigh the responsibility to shoot? Do those who have the freedom also realize that they have the responsibility of acting in good conscience?

Is the issue with the word seven? Can we not see how much seven is? Do we not realize seven means, I intend to do this not once, not twice, not three times, not 4 times, not five times, not six times; but, I intend to do this seven times. If someone does something 7 times you would begin to think that it is no accident.

Is the issue with the word times? How many times does this have to happen? How many times do we have to hear the same story? How many times do we have to say this is not right before someone hears us? How many times?

Is the issue with the word back? Are we just going to turn our back? Are we just going to go back to the way things were? Are we just going to go back and forth and make no progress? Are we just going to go back to the question, “Why was a man shot seven times in the back?"

We have more in common than you think. We can change, we can speak, we can care, we can share, we can behave differently. We can pray, we can stay, we can teach, we can reach, we can be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding, in the work of The Lord!

It is easy to be discouraged by what is going on. It is easy to ignore what is going on. It is easy to dismiss the way things are and hope that someone else deals with it. But, we all, in our own garden where The Lord has placed us, can be the voice of change and continue to speak truth about what is going on. Ecclesiastes 3
To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under
heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a
time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A
time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time
to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away
stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to
refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to
keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A
time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time
to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Habakkuk Questions God

I love reading in the Old Testament when people were willing to argue with God. I think that shows a level of trust—they trusted that God would listen and not reject them because of their confronting him. I find this in Habakkuk.

Habakkuk complained to God because of the evil in Israel. Why did God ignore it?

Chapter 1:2:
How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?

God said he would use the wicked and fierce country of Babylonia as a punishment, but Habakkuk couldn’t believe that was the right thing to do.

Verse 13:
Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

God responds that in the end, he will judge wrongdoing.

Chapter 2:16,20:
You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and let your nakedness be exposed! The cup from the Lord’s right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory.
The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.

Habakkuk is humbled, but still he prays for mercy.

Chapter 3:2:
Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.

In the end, Habakkuk knew, whatever trouble there may be, he had hope with God.

Chapter 3: 17-19:
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Ane Mulligan, Southern-fried fiction

My guest this week is author Ane Mulligan. Enjoy.

When people learn I’m an author, they want to know what kind of books I write. My brand is Southern-fried fiction. In all my books, no matter what era they’re set in, you’ll find an ensemble cast of strong women, facing life’s issues together.

I grew up wanting sisters. I only had a brother; both of us were adopted. While we had an idyllic childhood, I longed for sisters. I gathered girl friends around me in place of nonexistent sisters. That continued into adulthood, and those friendships influenced my writing. Of course, little did I know what God had in store for me. The story of my discovery of my birth sisters is here, on my website:

In High Cotton is the first in my Georgia Magnolias series. It’s probably my favorite of all the books I’ve written. I love this story of a young widow, raising her small son during the Depression. I also grew to love the other characters, who took on life as Maggie gathered them around her.

Sadie Moreland, half Yamasee Indian, who became a mentor to Maggie. Duchess Alden, Maggie’s sister, who arrived in Rivers End without any skills other than being a good hostess.
Then there’s sweet Pinkie Yates. Maggie’s little boy found her beaten and battered. He told his mama he’s like the Good Samaritan in the Bible, and they had to take her home. Maggie’s mother-in-law, Faylene, is a tower of strength.

I’ve had a lot of fun researching and writing this series. One of my favorite aspects of this was the Depression era recipes. Southerners used peanuts as a staple protein in their family meals, and I tried a few out on my family. I share several recipes in the book, and I thought y’all might enjoy seeing one of them.

Macaroni Papoose
1 package macaroni, broken in ¼-inch lengths
1/3 c milk
grated cheese
small amount horseradish
thin slices raw smoked ham

Cook macaroni until tender, spread slices of ham with macaroni, horseradish and cheese.
Roll slices and skewer or tie together. Place in shallow baking dish with milk.

Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) for 35 minutes. Serve hot with dish of crushed pineapple to sprinkle over each “papoose” as desired.

If you’d like to read the first chapter of In High Cotton, go to and scroll to the DOWNLOADS

Ane Mulligan has been a voracious reader ever since her mom instilled within her a love of reading at age three, escaping into worlds otherwise unknown. But when Ane saw PETER PAN on stage, she was struck with a fever from which she never recovered—stage fever. She submerged herself in drama through high school and college. One day, her two loves collided, and a bestselling, award-winning novelist emerged. She lives in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler. Find Ane on her website: 
Amazon Author Page:
The Write Conversation: 

In High Cotton
Southern women may look as delicate as flowers, but there’s iron in their veins.
While the rest of the world has been roaring through the 1920s, times are hardscrabble in rural South Georgia. Widow Maggie Parker is barely surviving while raising her young son alone. Then as banks begin to fail, her father-in-law threatens to take her son and sell off her livelihood—the grocery store her husband left her. Can five Southern women band together, using their wisdom and wiles to stop him and survive the Great Depression?

Available online at
and in bookstores.

Mulligan pens a story full of southern charm with a cast of characters in a cute Georgia town you won't easily forget. Makes me want to sit down with the lot of them for a glass of sweet tea. — New York Times Bestselling Author, Rachel Hauck

“What was the last book that kept you up until the wee hours of the morning? Last time I looked at the clock it was almost 2am and I was reading Ane Mulligan's "In High Cotton" which comes out Aug 3, 2020! I had to force myself to put a bookmark in my Kindle.” Mimi Noble on Avid Readers of Christian Fiction

Friday, August 7, 2020

Pe Psalm 119:129-136


פ Pe

Your statutes are wonderful;

    therefore I obey them.

The unfolding of your words gives light;

    it gives understanding to the simple.

I open my mouth and pant,

    longing for your commands.

Turn to me and have mercy on me,

    as you always do to those who love your name.

Direct my footsteps according to your word;

    let no sin rule over me.

Redeem me from human oppression,

    that I may obey your precepts.

Make your face shine on your servant

    and teach me your decrees.

Streams of tears flow from my eyes,

    for your law is not obeyed.



Father, your word brings so much comfort to me. With you, Father, I weep for those who do not obey u, because of the loneliness and sorrow which that brings to their lives. Thank you that your desire is     to be merciful to us, to teach us your way. Help me show the glory of your love to others.                 

Friday, July 31, 2020

Sweet Memories and Giggles

                                                            June 15, 1997: Sarah, our picky eater, was unsure about her vegetable soup, a new experience for her. "What is this?" "A green bean." "Take it out ... take this out, too ... take everything out!"


We went to Shoney's this morning and, as we were paying the bill, Sarah tried to get a balloon that was tied in a group of four to a rail. She untied them, and they all went to the ceiling. We laughed, and she said, "I don't like people laughing at me. I especially don't like my family laughing at me!"


June 18, 1997: Kathy was busy this morning when the phone rang, so she asked Caleb to answer it. He picked up the phone and said cheerfully, "Who are you?"


June 19, 1997: We were picking up a new kitten today at some friends', to go with our older two cats. The man said that the older two wouldn't like the kitty at first. Rebecca said, "No, Deborah (our 1-year old cat) will like her. She's always wanted a kitty."


June 27, 1997: Sarah was trying to tell me something this morning, but Benjamin was crying loudly. Frustrated, Sarah shouted, "How can we quiet him down?"


June 29, 1997: Rebecca just saw a spider, and asked Murray to get rid of it. Caleb said, "Get a bug spanker." (Flyswatter?)


Murray and the kids were looking at a cartoon in the paper with a grandfather looking down from Heaven. Sarah was wanting to look at the picture, and know all about it, and Murray said it was supposed to be the grandfather in Heaven, pointing out the heavenly clouds and the gates and the angels. Sarah looked and, getting to the thrust of the issue, asked, "Where's Jesus?"


June 29, 1997: Rebecca asked what a "step-sister" is, and Murray tried to explain. "Suppose I died and went to heaven. That would leave mommy with you kids. Then, suppose Mrs. X died. That would leave Mr. X with all those kids. Then, if mommy married Mr. X, all you kids and all those kids would be step-sisters and step-brothers." Caleb, voicing his true concern, asked, "Who would drive us to the wedding?"


July 3, 1997: This morning Caleb made an airplane out of Legos. He was telling me about it, and he said, "The pilot, SHE" did something, very naturally calling the pilot a "she.”


July 10, 1997: Benjamin was having a loud crying spell yesterday, and Sarah said in frustration, "I didn't know babies cried so much!" I said I didn't know it either, and she said, "Yes, you did, because I did. Did I?"


July 13, 1997: When Kathy said that we might take a trip sometime to the place in Kansas where Laura Engels Wilder lived, Sarah said, "My heart is full of joy, because every day I'm learning new surprises."


We were at Olan Mills, waiting to get our pictures taken today, when the three middle kids were playing in a play area. Rebecca, being Miss 911, said, with a chuckle, "Well, no, I don't take care of fires. I guess you can talk to my friend here," and Sarah spoke with that caller. Sarah got another call in a few minutes: "No, I don't take care of old people, I take care of fires. You can talk to the lady who does that. Here's my friend."


July 20, 1997: Tonight at supper, Rebecca asked Murray and me, "Why don't you both have the same color hair, since you're both from Missouri?"


Last night we had pizza and salad for supper, and Rebecca pointed out that Sarah got some "crew-cuts" from the salad bar -- you know those small, square, hard cracker-like things.


Ping-Hwei told me yesterday that when he was forty-five, he wanted to get married. He said he wanted to find a wife who loved Jesus, and he said, "Babba help me." Murray assured him he would.


We've read all the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and talked about how she really lived, and a few weeks ago, we went to visit her home and museum in Mansfield, Missouri. Sarah said yesterday, "You know how I know Laura was real? Because she had houses. And mostly because I saw the chair and desk where she wrote."

Friday, July 24, 2020

Authors I've Discovered

Most of these authors are new to me; all of them write with faith.

Irene Hannon writes about Missouri, where I grew up, so that is a delight to me. Her stories include mystery and suspense.

Tessa Afshar writes Biblical fiction, including stories about Priscilla and Aquila, Paul, and Rahab.

Books I’ve read from Karen Barnett take place in National Parks in the 1920s and 30s.

So far I’ve only read one book by Rachel Hauck, The Fifth Avenue Story Society. This is a literary book of modern-day New York City with a variety of people. They are strangers who are mysteriously brought together and become important in each other’s lives.

Terry Blackstock, not a new author to me, excellent suspense.

Lauraine Snelling shares stories of immigrants from Norway who settle in Minnesota in the early 1900s, looking for hope and a new home. Beautiful stories of lives of settlers.

I have added all of these authors to my to-be-read-again list.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Hope in These Times

I’ve been thinking I should write about our time during the corona virus.

But what should I write about? Things aren’t that much different in our lives.

We did have to stop our braille teaching at the correctional center, and my husband only worked from home for a while. Both our sons who live with us are unemployed during this time. We are having virtual church, and I didn’t leave the house for more than three months.

Other than that, my life is much the same. I already did work from home. Our finances have been fine. My husband and sons take safety measures seriously when they leave home.

I live with three men, so I’m not at all lonely. Truthfully, we’ve all gotten along pretty well being shut up at home together most of the time.

So what to write about?

I finally decided I should talk about the concerns of my heart during this overwhelming, frightening time in our nation, in the world.

Listening to the news makes my heart heavy—about the virus, about the horrid racial problems, about the economy, about so much division in our country.

What are the long-range consequences we face? How are our futures, mine and my children’s, going to change?

When will our sons be able to go back to work? Our daughter just finished graduate school. Will she be able to find a job?

When can we travel in the community again without fear of illness? When will schools be able to operate safely?

When will we stop hearing of so many people getting sick and dying from the corona virus? When will all of us in our nation have more peace among us?

When will I have a true moment of joy without feeling a prick of guilt?

I’ve heard many opinions, read many devotions and articles about these times. I want to share some of the hope and encouragement I’ve received from others.

Psalms 68:19:
Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms.

Isaiah 41:13:
 “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’”

Romans 8:35,37:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

What I’ve heard repeated most: None of this was a surprise to God. He knew it was going to happen, and he knew where each of us would be.

Psalm 139:16: 
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

In Genesis chapter 16, Hagar calls God the God who saw her.

Verse 13: She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

God sees us. He is always with us. He helps us. And he has work for us to do.

God wants me to focus on being part of the solution, not the problem. This gives me such hope.

Joshua 1:9:
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Ephesians 2:10:
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Father, thank you for this hope, for this reminder. Help me to see those near me who need help, and give me the strength and courage to do what I can.

Friday, July 10, 2020

God Sees Me Through Jesus

Jeremiah 17:9-10:
 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”

Does this verse scare you?

It does me.

How about this one?

Romans 8:1: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Is the bible contradicting itself? No. The scriptures are clear that God hates sin, and that our sin separates us from him.

The bible is also clear that God loves us and has provided a way to rescue us.

Let’s look at a few bridges which bring the above two verses together.

Romans 5:8: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Isaiah 53: 5: But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

John 3:16-17: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Hebrews 7:25: Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

John 5:24: “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

Father God, thank you. Because of your love for me, you look at me and see Jesus.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Soul Survivor by Philip Yancey

Soul Survivor: how thirteen unlikely mentors helped my faith survive the church

I have read several books by journalist/author Philip Yancey, including Soul Survivor. Not long ago, I signed up to receive his blog posts, and due to recent racist concerns, this book was mentioned. So I picked it up again.

Yancey grew up in the violent and “blatantly racist” Deep South in the 50s and 60s. He talks of beliefs and feelings against blacks which were natural in his church and school, in himself.

Yancey struggled to keep his faith as he grew more aware of racism and other problems with his church. He talks of thirteen people who helped him find his way back to a faith in God.

Martin Luther King Jr. used the Sermon on the Mount to back his movement. He called for non-violent protest, to bring to light the horror shown to blacks, to bring this to the notice of white Americans who would object. He said he had to love everyone because God loved everyone.

Yancey said one thing that helped him was reading in the Old Testament prophets and the teachings of Jesus that God had always been on the side of the oppressed and called for justice. I, too, have found these in the scriptures more and more the older I get.

Luke 4:16-19: He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Isaiah 1: 17: Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

Amos 5:14-15: Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed. Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people.

Though I’ve always known racism is still around, I believed that it had much improved since the 60s. Now, I’m fearing that’s not true.

Yancey said he pulled away from the church because of self-righteousness, hypocrisy, legalism and racism. G. K. Chesterson, when asked what is wrong with the world, answered, “I am.” This helped Yancey understand his own sin as he judged the church.

Dr. Paul Brand taught him about humility and trust.

A Japanese writer taught him that Jesus welcomes doubters, that he died for traitors. Jesus identified with rejects and outcasts.

Henri Nouwen from the Netherlands, priest, professor, missionary, writer. Yancey says Nouwen taught him it was okay to take risks with his writing, to admit his weakness. Nouwen said, “The only true healer is a wounded healer.”

Mahatma Gandhi. Although Gandhi never became a Christian, he studied the Bible and tried to follow Jesus’ teachings. Yancey said Gandhi made him realize that Jesus had caused a new way of thinking for the world, even if people did not accept him as God.

Other mentors included authors, doctors, a psychiatrist, writers, poets, professors, preachers, missionaries.

Yancey says that these mentors, who struggled with their own sin, showed him that Jesus loves them like a mother, who loves her children in spite of their wrongs.

Much about God is hard to understand, but we see the face of God in Jesus on earth, how he showed compassion to the hurting. And, Yancey said, if we can’t trust God, what can we trust?

Yancey said these mentors taught him about humility, and to realize that he had given into the temptation of self-righteousness, looking down on the people from his church upbringing without remembering the good he’d seen there. He said, “I needed to rediscover the leveling truth of Jesus’ gospel…I needed a change in heart as much as a change in thought.” He said he needed to forgive the people in the churches of his childhood.

This is not an easy book. Yancey discussed the struggles and failures of his mentors, himself, and of me. But he doesn’t leave us hopeless. He found that the way to survive was to go back for the mercy and grace of Jesus.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Kathy McKinsey: Sweet Memories, Something Delightful to Think About

Kathy McKinsey: Sweet Memories, Something Delightful to Think About: May 5, 1997: We were singing about throwing the kids “out the window, the window, the second story window," and this made Sarah upset...

Sweet Memories, Something Delightful to Think About

May 5, 1997: We were singing about throwing the kids “out the window, the window, the second story window," and this made Sarah upset. She said to Murray, "You love us so much, you don't want to hurt us bad boy! You know!"

May 8, 1997: The other day Sarah showed me how the cats sneeze, and did a very good job of imitating a cat, making a little snuffing snorting sound with her nose. Then she came to me and pressed my shoulder, and said, "I push the button on them right here, and they sneeze."

Murray was pulling the van into a parking space, and he had to make 3 or 4 back and forth adjustments to center the van in the space. Rebecca didn't like all this, and said, "Daddy, you're frustrating me."

May 11, 1997: Today Sarah told us that she wants to be baptized next Sunday. We said that she loves Jesus, and she said, "I love Him with all my heart. I'll love Him more when I have a bigger heart."

May 16, 1997: Yesterday Kathy was reading to Sarah about how farmers were needing rain. She read that every morning the farmer looked anxiously for signs of rain, and Sarah asked, "Who put up the signs?"

May 18, 1997: The kids stayed with friends from Friday evening until Sunday morning. This morning, Kathy asked Sarah, "Did you miss me?" Sarah replied, "I didn't think about missing you because it was so fun there.”

May 21, 1997: Sarah was reading to me this morning from the zoo book. At one point she stopped and said, "I stopped because a bubble came through my mouth; a mouth bubble, and it tasted good."

After Sarah came out of the water from being baptized last week, she said, "God's in my heart now too."

On the kids' trip to Colorado with Murray, Sarah had a story to tell. She was talking quickly, breathlessly, and Murray tried to help her, saying, "You mean you..." Sarah said, "Please be quiet," and continued her story.

May 27, 1997: After coming home from their weekend trip, Caleb told Kathy, "I wish you could see. Then, when we go to Colorado, you could get the lawn mower out and cut the grass."

June 1, 1997: The other day, Sarah was helping clear the table, and said, "I'm being a servant." Kathy told her, "You learned that from Jesus." Sarah replied, "I learned it from watching you."

June 3, 1997: Today was the last day of school. At suppertime Ping-Hwei said, "I'm so happy! Tomorrow, home."

At supper we were talking about how God can do or change anything He wants. Rebecca said, "He can delete anything He wants. He can cancel anything He wants. Those words are on the computer."

Yesterday while I was vacuuming, Sarah kept interrupting me to ask many things. Finally I told her not to interrupt me anymore unless the phone rang or she had an emergency. Then I went on vacuuming, and she went on coloring. A few minutes later I heard her calling to me. I turned off the vacuum to see what the problem was. "I can't find a color," Sarah told me, "Isn't that a little emergency?"

June 4, 1997: We must have told the kids sometime about people getting skin cancer if they get sunburned too much. Today Sarah asked me about it while I was putting suntan lotion on the girls. They seemed a little nervous about it, so I said people had to get sunburned a lot to get cancer, but the best thing was just to use suntan lotion, to be safe. Rebecca said, "The best thing is to not tell us about it so we don't get scared."

June 5, 1997: The kids fight a lot. This afternoon, however, Caleb came to me and said proudly, "We're all being really nice to each other."

June 9, 1997: Yesterday we were driving to Tulsa to get Benjamin. (This is when Benjamin, not quite six months old, first came home to live with us.) We were driving on a bridge over a river, and it made Sarah a little nervous, and she said, "Something has to save us."

When we drove into the airport at Tulsa, Rebecca asked, "Is this where we are?"

Sometimes when Ping-Hwei asks if he can open his window, he asks if he can "Open door, window." I always thought he was just looking for the right word. Last night he asked, "Why Benjamin no open door eyes?" So I guess open door just means open.

June 11, 1997: Sarah had her kindergarten physical exam today, and has been worried for the last several weeks that she might have to take her clothes off for the doctor. Rebecca has fanned the flames by telling her that she WOULD have to take them off. We didn't want to tell her that she absolutely wouldn't, in case she did, but we told her that she didn't have to take her clothes off unless Daddy was there. She practiced, saying, "I want to wait until my Daddy is here." She even practiced on the way to the doctor's. In the office, Murray was on the phone when Marlene, the nurse, came. She picked up Benjamin's carrier, took Sarah's hand, and walked off. When Murray caught up with them, Marlene said that Sarah had greeted her with, "Hi, Marlene. I don't have to take off my clothes until my Daddy gets here."

Friday, June 19, 2020

How Prayer Quiets and Calms Our Anxious Hearts

My guest this week is author Jennifer Slattery.

If God is sovereign, why pray? If He already knows precisely how everything in all the world, my life included, will play out, what’s the purpose in laying my requests before Him? Why not simply bow my head, say, “Thy will be done,” and move on to more productive matters like serving in soup kitchens, orphanages, and nurseries?

I suspect we’ve all wrestled with these questions. I have. I’ve even brought them to God in prayer, as ironic as that may sound. And as I sat in His presence, He met me and showered me with His love and grace. My requests became conversations, my fears and anxieties pathways to certainty, and my unmet earthly desires avenues to becoming filled with something more sustaining and satisfying than anything I might acquire apart from Him.

Through prayer, God redirects, instructs, and fills my heart while purging it of everything that gets in His way. He reveals hidden motives, undetected sins, and bits of deception that, if not dealt with, hinder my faith, my journey, and my relationship with Him. Often, I begin with a frustration or concern, but as His love reigns over me, it overpowers every angst filled thought with truth.

When I fear financial difficulties, He reminds me He’s my provider and that all the world, a thousand banks included, sit under His command.

When illness steals the health of those I love, He assures me He holds all of eternity, their life included, in His grasp.

When I’m watching someone I care deeply for flounder and fight their way to maturity, He gently directs me to Philippians 1:6, which tells me He is working, at this moment, to grow them in Him. He won’t let go, leave them as orphans, nor will He let up until His will, in their life and mine, has come to pass.

There’s such peace in knowing that. In recognizing that God has a good, loving, and hope-filled plan for each of His children and is fully capable of bringing it to pass. When I pause to reflect on that truth, promised numerous times throughout Scripture, my soul quiets itself like a weaned child resting in the arms of its mother.

You may be familiar with that reference of a content and satiated toddler, and of the story behind the man who wrote it. It’s found in Psalm 131, written by David, Israel’s second king. Anointed as a youth, he endured years of persecution and betrayal before seeing God’s plans unfold. In the waiting, he fled his homeland in fear for his life, hid in the wilderness, caves, and acted like a madman. But though sorrow and fears assaulted him, they never remained. God never allowed them to take root. Instead, as David sat in the presence of the Almighty, loved from the hairs on his head to the tips of his toes, God led him on a gentle but empowering journey to faith.

Psalm 59 is one of my favorite examples, written after David, afraid for his life, flees a murderous king by climbing out his window. His prayer begins with desperate pleas but ends with courage, confidence and peace.

“Rescue me from my enemies, O God. Protect me from those who have come to destroy me. Rescue me from these criminals; save me from these murderers. … I have done nothing wrong, yet they prepare to attack me. Wake up! See what is happening and help me!” (Ps. 59:1-2, 4b).

Can you sense his desperation? It’s as if he’s saying, “Don’t You see? Why have You allowed this?”

But then, in the middle of his turmoil, God draws him deeper into His embrace, and David’s heart overflows with praise. “You are my strength,” he says “O Lord our shield” (vs. 9a, 11b).  “My enemies come out at night, snarling like vicious dogs as they prowl the streets” (v. 14). In other words, they’re real and terrifying, but David knew God was greater. “As for me, I will sing about Your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about Your unfailing love. For You” not castle strongholds, weapons of warfare, or armed soldiers “have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress” (v. 16).

I love that last line and the promise it provides. God is our refuge and safety, and we can always rest in His love. As we come to Him with our heartfelt concerns, He quiets the angst within and replaces it with unshakable confidence and peace.

Though He may indeed answer our prayers as we hope, He anchors us in something infinitely deeper, more solid, and more enduring—Himself and His unfailing love.

I don’t know your requests or how God will answer. But I can promise this:

He sees you. (Psalm 34:15)
He hears you. (Psalm 34:6)
He loves you unfailingly. (Psalm 57:3)
He will fulfill His purposes for you. (Psalm 57:2)
He surrounds and defends you. (Psalm 34:7)
When your heart breaks, He holds you close. (Psalm 34:18)

He is faithful, strong, attentive and true. (Deut. 7:9, Ps. 28:7, John 3:33)

Let’s talk about this! Do you have any favorite Psalms, most specifically, those written by ancient Israel’s King David? If so, which ones and why do you treasure that passage? Have you ever used one of David’s prayers as a guide or springboard for your own? Share your thoughts, stories, examples, and questions with us in the comments below, because we can all encourage, challenge, and inspire one another!

Friday, June 12, 2020

Psalm 119:121-128 Ayin

ע Ayin
I have done what is righteous and just;
    do not leave me to my oppressors.
Ensure your servant’s well-being;
    do not let the arrogant oppress me.
My eyes fail, looking for your salvation,
    looking for your righteous promise.
Deal with your servant according to your love
    and teach me your decrees.
I am your servant; give me discernment
    that I may understand your statutes.
It is time for you to act, Lord;
    your law is being broken.
Because I love your commands
    more than gold, more than pure gold,
and because I consider all your precepts right,
 I hate every wrong path.

Father God, you know all that is in me, all the good and all the bad. Thank you, God, that still, you allow me to come and pour out all that is on my heart. Teach me your mind, your will, your ways of living in the world. Protect me and keep me safe. Because you love us, rescue all who are being treated against your will.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Grace and Truth, John 8:12-58

This is a long passage of Jesus confronting the Jews at the temple. I don’t understand everything here, but the first verse catches my attention and gives me hope.

Verse 12: When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

What a promise! If I will stay close to Jesus, he will shine light on my questions and fears and uncertainties.

Jesus was bold in stating his status and the consequences for not believing in him.

Verse 24: “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”

Another promise.

Verse 31-32: To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

He explains what we will be freed from.

Verse 34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”

I am so grateful Jesus has given me this freedom.

Jesus confronted the devil and those who listened to him.

Verse 44: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

And although Jesus knew they would condemn him, he claimed for himself the name which had always only been used for God.

Verse 58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

Lord, thank you for the promises you gave us, and for the truth you did not hesitate to speak.