Thursday, May 6, 2021

Guest Authors Joshua and Sarah Lowe

This children’s book sounds delightful. And, “The weak and weary in need of a Savior,” I can surely relate to.

 

 

“He must become greater; I must become less.”

John 3:30 (NIV)

 

The world is full of self-promotion. Flip through social media and see the many selfies, faces yearning for a compliment. Click through YouTube and watch all of the “yous” saying “me, me, me”. Listen to conversations and hear people talking over each other, at each other, past each other, in an attempt to be heard, or seen, or praised.

 

The world even demands we self-promote. Stand out or fall off the map! As I write this, I am in the middle of working toward tenure at a university. This means I have a certain number of years to convince a committee that I am worth keeping around. And so, I keep asking myself if the work I am doing will make me look good? Will anyone care that I’ve done this? How can I get credit for this? Who will notice me?

 

And now, my wife and I have just released a new children’s picture book, and we, like every writer or illustrator, are being asked to promote ourselves in order to introduce it to new audiences. We are being asked to tell the world why it should pay attention.




 

But we are torn. Because the title character of our book, little Gus Mustardseed, would never do such a thing. He would never say “Hey, look at me and the things I have done!”. Instead, he would say “Hey, look at God and the things He has done!”. He would follow the advice of John the Baptist, who when talking about Jesus, said,

 

“He must become greater, I must become less.”

John 3:30 (NIV)

 

This desire to toot our own horn is not new. My toddling children have taught me that selfishness starts at the beginning, and I’ve learned from myself that it doesn’t go away as we get older. Perhaps the thing Gus Mustardseed can teach us most clearly in this book is that the Lord doesn’t need heroic figures without fault. In fact, He seemingly delights in using the weak.

 

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:27-31 (NIV)

 

The Unshakeable Faith of Gus Mustardseed was inspired by a parable of Jesus in Matthew 17:20, where He speaks of faith that can move mountains. However, the character of Gus was pieced together by the many small, unlikely people and circumstances the Lord has used to make Himself known. The ones who could not boast in themselves. The weak and weary in need of a Savior.

 

Perhaps God can use this tiny book for His glory. Perhaps he will use children who embrace big faith. Perhaps he is using you.

Book: The Unshakeable Faith of Gus Mustardseed

By Joshua and Sarah Lowe

 

Social Links:

GusMustardseed.com

https://www.instagram.com/thelowescreate/

 

 

Bio:

Joshua and Sarah Lowe are the husband and wife team behind The Unshakeable Faith of Gus Mustardseed. Based in Illinois with their three children, Joshua is a professor at the School of Art and Design at Illinois Wesleyan University and Sarah is a professional illustrator of textiles, games, children’s decor, and book covers. Together, they have a passion for combining visuals and storytelling into lively picture books. You can visit them at www.thelowescreate.com.



 


Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-unshakeable-faith-of-gus-mustardseed-joshua-and-sarah-lowe/1131098453?ean=9781953456083

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Unshakeable-Faith-Gus-Mustardseed/dp/1953456111/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=The+Unshakeable+Faith+of+Gus+Mustardseed&qid=1618268220&sr=8-1

 

Little Lamb Books: https://littlelambbooks.com/shop-books-more/

  

Friday, April 30, 2021

Jesus, Take My Hand

I believe it was in Arkansas where I first heard the song “Thank You” by Ray Boltz. It’s a lovely story about someone going to Heaven and learning their reward is all the many people there who were touched by their small acts of kindness and generosity, many of whom the person might not remember, many they might not have realized at the time. But the line in the song that most impressed my heart was when it said Jesus took their hand.

 

That’s the reward I want in Heaven, for Jesus to take my hand. And, truly, according to the Bible, he does that right now too.

 

Jesus, walk beside me.

Jesus, take my hand.

Lord, I need you close to me.

I need you for my friend.

Please be my big brother.

Please smile and laugh with me.

Hold me when I’m crying.

Guide me when I’m lost.

Oh Jesus, oh I thank you,

For never leaving me, Lord.

Hold my hand tight, Lord.

I’ll slip and fall on my own.

Thank you, Jesus, for holding my hand.

 

Deuteronomy 31:6: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 

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.”

  

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Who I Want to Be

I had the privilege of contributing to this book, a devotional of Matthew by a number of authors, some of them friends of mine. The pieces are encouraging, thoughtful, compelling. The hope is to show Jesus’ love and his heart’s desire to lift us up from anywhere we are to where we long to be.

 



 

Want the perfect Mother’s Day gift AND help spread the Gospel to Japanese women too?

 

Get your copy of the multi-author devotional, “Who I Want to Be: A Devotional Journey Through the Book of Matthew,” which now has a lovely new cover!

 

Proceeds go toward funding the devotional book’s translation into Japanese and for copies to distribute to Japanese women.

 

Purchase a copy here >> https://www.amazon.com/dp/1942225067/ 

 


  

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Guest Author, Sherri Stewart

I’ve always been interested in stories about World War II, and I thank Sherri for being here today to tell us about her new book.




 

Goedemorgen. That’s Dutch for good morning. I’m Sherri Stewart. I’m not from the Netherlands but my newest book takes place there, so I’ve been immersing myself in the country and the language. I love writing clean novels, sprinkled with romance and a strong message that hopefully challenges your faith. I spend my working hours with books—either editing others’ manuscripts or writing my own. My passion is traveling to the settings of my books, sampling the food and visiting the sites. My trip to the Netherlands to research this book was everything and more than I could have dreamed of. I’m a recent widow and live in the Orlando area with my lazy dog, Lily, and my son, Joshua, who can fix anything. I share recipes, tidbits of my books’ locations, and pix in my monthly newsletters. Subscribe at http://eepurl.com/gZ-mv9

 

A Song for Her Enemies is my first attempt at a World War II romance. My faith hero has always been Corrie ten Boom, so when my publisher asked us to pick a female hero and write a fictional account of the person from another’s point of view, I jumped at the chance. Little did I know that the book would consume me for two years. It took on a life of its own. Corrie passed away in the 80s, and many of the survivors of the holocaust have left us, but I don’t want them to be forgotten. I want people to know what happened over there—to learn from it, or we’ll make the same mistakes again.

 

For those of you unfamiliar with Corrie, I’ll tell you a bit about her. She was a middle-aged watchmaker who lived with her father and her older sister, Betsie. Her family had a heart for the Jewish people in her Haarlem neighborhood, so when families started disappearing and Nazis looted shops and houses, Corrie opened her home to Jewish refugees. My story is told from the point of view of a young Jewish singer named Tamar, who sought refuge in her house. I couldn’t get permission from the ten Boom estate to write a fictional account about Corrie, so I wrote about violinist Neelie Visser instead. Since she’s made up, I don’t need to get permission from her estate.

 




Here’s a bit about the book. After Nazi soldiers close the opera and destroy Tamar Kaplan’s dream of becoming a professional singer, she joins the Dutch Resistance, her fair coloring concealing her Jewish heritage. Tamar partners with Dr. Daniel Feldman, and they risk their lives to help escaping refugees. When they are forced to flee themselves, violinist Neelie Visser takes them into hiding.

Tamar’s love for Daniel flowers in hardship, but she struggles with the paradox that a loving God would allow the atrocities around her. When Tamar resists the advances of a Third Reich officer, he exacts his revenge by betraying the secrets hidden behind the walls of Neelie’s house. From a prison hospital to a Nazi celebration to a concentration camp, will the three of them survive to tell the world the secrets behind barbed wire?  

A Song for Her Enemies is the story of a talented young opera singer and the bittersweet love that grows amid the tyranny and fear of World War II. Set against the backdrop of neighbors willing to risk their lives in the German-occupied, war-torn Netherlands, A Song for Her Enemies is an inspiring and beautiful novel celebrating the resilience of the human spirit and the determination of Christians in the face of persecution. It is a novel for everyone seeking to understand the pain of the past and be inspired to embrace hope for the future.

Although atrocities occurred during this shameful period of history, I believe it is possible to tell the story without being graphic or maudlin. God promised Jews and Christians a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. (Isaiah 61:3) https://amzn.to/2PoCxMV

 

 

 

  

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Guest Author, Carol McClain

I'm glad Carol has joined us this morning. This book sounds delightful. And hopeful.




 

JOY COMES IN THE MORNING

BUT UNTIL IT DOES …?

SIN’S NOT ALL IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE—BUT AFTER SORROW, COMES JOY.

 

Numbers 14:18 and similar scriptures always caused me to stumble.

“The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation” Numbers 14:18, KJV. (emphasis mine).

 Of course, it wasn’t the fact that God is longsuffering and of great mercy that gave me pause.

That he forgives me and brings me joy.

But why would he hurt the offspring of the iniquitous? They didn’t cause the sin of their parents.

I’ve come to see in my life how this happens. My parents had been alcoholics (past tense—forgiven and forgotten). However, my siblings and I mimicked their pattern of behavior. I won’t reveal the foibles of my siblings or the specifics of my own. I had dabbled in alcohol and drugs. Then, I accepted Jesus and swore off anything bringing inebriation.

Throughout my life, though, I’ve battled the consequences of my youthful foibles.

In similar patterns, we see children of abuse, abusing their children. Offspring of cheaters, cheat. Even as they despise what happened to them, these individuals repeat the process, unless something breaks the cycle.

Recently, I moved to a county which, at one time, had the third-highest opioid use in the nation. I involved myself with mentoring and sadly watched so many fervent individuals relapse into addiction.

Why? Patterns learned enthrall us. And, sin has consequences.

Oh, aren’t you glad you’re reading this blog?

Here comes the good part.

SALVATION AND MENTORING WORK.

Through my time working and mentoring addicts, I heard many horror stories of those who have been conquered by sin. Despite overwhelming odds, I’ve rejoiced with many who had conquered their past.

From this, Borrowed Lives was born. From this, I know the issues confronting people and the wonderful way they’ve conquered them—whether it be from drugs or human cruelty. (You’ve never faced a miserable human, have you? I didn’t think so. Although I believe most people are good-hearted, miserable humans thrive. Surprise!).

Borrowed Lives

Tragedy broke Meredith Jaynes, then she found three abandoned children.

 

This novel creates a world where things aren’t perfect, even for devoted Christians. As sin is overcome and as we walk in God, we may not get our “happily ever after.” With dependence on Christ and His ways, we will live happily.

SO, WHY SHOULD YOU READ THIS NOVEL?

1.    Humor. Even when I’m not trying to be funny, I am. I can’t help it. Move over Carol Burnett. This Carol’s taking over.

2.    Spiritual truth. Even when I’m entertaining, I’m guided by Scripture. By now it’s in the very fabric of my being.

3.    Local color. I’m still enamored of my new home in Tennessee, so I set the book in Jacksboro—my new hometown. Hopefully, you can see Tennessee’s beauty.

 




Borrowed Lives:

God Only Lends Us Those We Love for a Season 

Distraught from recent tragedy, Meredith Jaynes takes pity on a young girl who steals from her. Meredith discovers “Bean” lives in a hovel mothering her two younger sisters. The three appear to have been abandoned. With no other homes available, Social Services will separate the siblings. To keep them together, Meredith agrees to foster them on a temporary basis.

Balancing life as a soap maker raising goats in rural Tennessee proved difficult enough before the siblings came into her care. Without Bean’s help, she’d never be able to nurture these children warped by drugs and neglect—let alone manage her goats that possess the talents of Houdini. Harder still is keeping her eccentric family at bay.

Social worker Parker Snow struggles to overcome the breakup with his fiancée. Burdened by his inability to find stable homes for so many children who need love, he believes placing the abandoned girls with Meredith Jaynes is the right decision. Though his world doesn’t promise tomorrow, he hopes Meredith’s does.

But she knows she’s too broken.

 

This is available on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Borrowed-Lives-Carol-McClain-ebook/dp/B08Z3HL2FZ/ref

Keep up with all the latest news at: carolmcclain.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.Carol.McClain

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/carol-mcclain

Instagram and Twitter: @carol_mcclain

  

Friday, April 2, 2021

Thank You, Jesus

I love reading Psalm 53 around Easter time, and I decided to share the whole passage.

 

Good Friday is a day of sorrow, and it is important for us to remember what Jesus suffered to spare us punishment. Verse 6 touched me this time, that because I went my own way, Jesus died for me.

 

But on Sunday, and every day, we can celebrate, with Jesus, his victory and the joy he has with us.

 

Hebrews 12:2: fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

Isaiah 53

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.

Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.

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.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth;

he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away.

    Yet who of his generation protested?

For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death,

though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,

    and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days,

    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied;

by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.

For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. 

Friday, March 26, 2021

John 10:1-10 Grace and Truth

Verse 10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

 

The Thief, Satan, comes only to steal and kill and destroy. His purpose is to make our lives and our eternities hell. That is no surprise to most of us.

 

But what about the rest of verse 10? Jesus came to give us life, full, abundant life.

 

How often do I think about that?

 

What is the abundance of life Jesus wants to give to me?

 

In verse 9, he says I will be able to go in and out and find pasture. To me that says that as I stay close to Jesus, not only will I have my needs met, but also I have freedom to move about and find even more of what is available to me in life.

 

Verses 3-5: The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.

 

Jesus knows us so well, he calls us by our names. He wants us to recognize his voice, and he promises to lead us. The closer we stay to him, and the more we listen to what he says to us, the harder it will be to hear the voice of any who want to steal and destroy us.

 

Jesus, you want to keep me safe from those who would harm me. Teach me to listen to you and to open my eyes to the lavish delights of life you want to give me. 

Friday, March 19, 2021

Sweet Memories, Some Thoughtful Words


February 3, 1998: Sarah fell at school last week and banged up her mouth and loosened a couple teeth. This morning, her mouth started bleeding again, and it didn't stop for a long time. She asked worriedly, "Do I have enough blood?" A little later she said, "It's never going to stop!" I was holding her later when she was sad, and I reminded her of a book we have called, "It's No Fun to Be Sick." I said, "It's no fun to be hurt either, is it?" She said, "Right now, I think hurt's worser than sick."

 

February 5, 1998: At lunch yesterday, Sarah went into the kitchen to get something. While she was in there, she said, "When I walk around in the kitchen, I feel proud, like I'm a lady."

 

February 10, 1998: The kids are going to a participatory theater this weekend, and Murray was showing them what it might be like, kind of growling at each of them. Sarah asked, "Do it again, use that stern voice."

 

February 16, 1998: This evening Murray and the three middle kids were coming home from the store. Rebecca said something mean to Murray, and then said in a mean way, "Oh, please forgive me." Murray said that he would if Rebecca really meant it, but she was just being mean. Sarah exclaimed, "Oh, Daddy, you're disforgiving."

 

February 16, 1998: Last night we were having hotdogs for supper. I was sitting in my rocking chair, Benjamin was at my feet, and Ping-Hwei was in the kitchen. I told Ping-Hwei to call Benjamin to come to him. He said, "Benjie, come here. Benjie, come here, I give you hotdog, eat."

 

This morning, Ping-Hwei was trying to scare me with the toy animals, like he always does. He showed me a turtle, and I pushed it away, like I was scared, like I always do. He said, "You love turtles. God made turtles."

 

This afternoon, when Murray got home, Sarah said, "Daddy, admire the house! We vacuumed it!"

 

March 2, 1998: We stayed at Jimmy's house this weekend, and all four big kids were sleeping in his living room. After everyone but Caleb was asleep, he said, "The girls are snoring." "I know honey," I said. "Like pigs," he finished matter-of-factly.

 

March 7, 1998: Last night the kids were talking about the circus, and what elephants do in the circus, and Rebecca talked about some tricks she saw at the circus, and then she asked, "Do you know what the tiger did?" "Eat people," Ping-Hwei suggested.

 

This morning Sarah was running between rooms talking, and she said, "I like to gallop when I'm happy, when I talk excitedly."

 

March 15, 1998: Rebecca and Sarah went for a little walk today. When they got back they were telling us all about it, and about how somehow Rebecca's shoe fell off, and Sarah said, "And it made me burst out laughing!"

 

One day last week Ping-Hwei was telling me how his computer wasn't working at school, and he said, "The computer no go to work."

 

Sarah had a substitute teacher one day last week, and when she came home, she said, "It was a much unnormal day." 

Friday, March 12, 2021

A Writer's Prayer

Lord, use me, my words, to touch people and show them your amazing grace, your real truths which can heal their hearts.


Throughout most of my Christian life, I have struggled between God’s grace and his wrath. I believe the Scriptures, that he is both a God of justice and a God of love.

 

Often, however, it has been hard for me to look at the Old Testament Laws, and the violent justice that was done in those times, then look at my sin and believe that God can forgive me.

 

I believe that Jesus died to forgive my sins, but I’ve often found it hard to let that give me peace. To truly believe that God has chosen to forget my sins and remove them as far as the east from the west, according to Psalm 103.

 

A book by author Tessa Afshar, A Pearl in the Sand, came at just the time I needed it.

 

I have been reading in the books of Exodus and Leviticus. In these books, I read about god’s wrath against sin. I also read about many laws which overwhelmed me. I’ve read these books a number of times before, but right now, they’ve particularly bothered me.

 

A Pearl in the Sand is about the army of Israel taking over the city of Jericho, as well as Rahab and Salmon’s love story. In this book, which is fiction, Rahab’s family is being taught the law so that they can join the Israelites.

 

During the lessons, a lady who weaves beautiful garments learns that she can no longer make garments of two kinds of material, such as linen and wool. The lady who teaches her about this says that Israel has many laws which are hard to understand. She says that God wants them to set themselves apart for himself. He doesn’t want them to fall into the habits and practices of the nations who worship false gods.

 

He has given them laws to make themselves different, separate to him, so they won’t be caught up in the sins of the other peoples. She said maybe someday, God would write his truths of being different on their hearts, and they wouldn’t need all of these laws anymore.

 

As I read this fictional account, I knew a peace from my struggles of reading the books of the law.

 

I have been a student of the Bible for over forty years. I have heard all these truths again and again, and I believe them.

 

I know about God writing his law on our hearts.

 

Romans 2:15: They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)

 

I know Jesus said he finished the law, completed it.

 

John 19:30: When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

 

I believe God loved us so much he sent his son to die for us.

 

John 3:16: 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.

 

I know he planned this from the beginning of time.

 

2 Timothy 1:9

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.

 

And yet, my fears come to me. The devil knows how to hurt me personally in ways that work especially on me and my fears and sorrows.

 

But if this fight comes to me again, I have a new tool to use against it, the words of this precious story. The work of this gentle author who has used wisdom given to her by God.

 

This motivates me even more as a writer to put into words for others things that will teach them about God’s love and grace, personally, in their special fears and doubts.



Friday, March 5, 2021

My Birthday Gift

Last week, I turned 60. First gift, my new book, Gifts of Grace, was released:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Gifts-Grace-Kathy-McKinsey-ebook/dp/B08T7ZHLMZ

 

But that was hardly the end.

 

My middle kids—Caleb, Rebecca, and Sarah—planned and prepared a great surprise for me. An “Author’s Treasure Box.”

 

They collected quotes by writers, for writers, prompts to jump-start your writing on a dry day. They brailled them and cut them in strips, then stuffed them in a pretty little box.

 

I was delighted, sitting at the dinner table, reading through all of them.

 

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.” Ernest Hemingway

 

“Good fiction’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” David Foster Wallace

 

“I can shake off everything as I write. My sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” Anne Frank

 

“Write a story from an inanimate object’s perspective.”

 

Write about your favorite daughter.” (Wonder who came up with that one?)

 

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Richard Bach

 

“A shoe falls out of the sky. Why?”

 

“Write about your favorite son.” Hmmm.

 

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Zora Neale Hurston

 

Fifty treasures.

 

I kept looking up at Sarah saying, “You guys, you guys.”

 

She said they wanted to do something special for my 60th.

 

Ping-Hwei and Murray listened as I read. Murray grabbed onto the prompts and took off to make up stories.

 

What a special time. Such a lovely reminder of what a precious gift my family is to me. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Carman, Memories


Christian singer Carman died last week, due to complications from surgery, at the age of 65.

 

I first heard Carman’s music when I was in college in the early ’80s. Murray took me to see him live in January of ’88, and Murray gave his life to Jesus that night. When Carman sang “Lazarus, Come Forth,” Murray said, “That’s the best song I’ve ever heard.”

 

The kids loved Carman too. In the mid ’90s, Murray’s Dad was visiting us. When he was in the car with Murray and the kids one day, he said, “Play that song that makes the kids squeal.” That was “Jesus is the Way.”

 

When Rebecca was in her teens, I remember listening to “The Champion” one day in the car, and Rebecca said, “That’s my favorite song ever.”

 

For over 30 years we attended many Carman concerts, Murray and the kids more than me. We saw him in a range of how he presented his shows, from small church gatherings to larger venues.

 

Murray likes to say that the first time we saw him, “It was just him, his guitar, and a tape deck.” Murray and the kids saw him at the Q in Cleveland with a large band, lights and dancers.

 

We attended a concert at a small gathering at a church just a couple years ago, where we were able to introduce ourselves to Carman and his wife.

 

Carman’s songs were sweet, beautiful worship numbers, “I feel Jesus,” “Revive us O Lord;” lively talking songs, “The Champion,” “Lazarus, Come Forth;” funny, “Soap Song.” His goal was always the same, to help bring more people to Jesus.

 

This has been a sad time for me. Carman was important in our lives, and I pray comfort for his wife and family.

 

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/february/died-carman-licciardello-christian-singer-las-vegas-tour.html 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Psalm 119:161-168 Sin and Shin

ש Sin and Shin

Rulers persecute me without cause,

    but my heart trembles at your word.

I rejoice in your promise

    like one who finds great spoil.

I hate and detest falsehood

    but I love your law.

Seven times a day I praise you

    for your righteous laws.

Great peace have those who love your law,

    and nothing can make them stumble.

I wait for your salvation, Lord,

    and I follow your commands.

I obey your statutes,

    for I love them greatly.

I obey your precepts and your statutes,

    for all my ways are known to you.

 

Father God, I find relief at knowing all my ways are known to you. You know my faults. I need not try to hide them. You also know my sorrows and my hardships. Teach me to love what you love, Lord, to obey your righteous ways. In my fears, cover me with the peace and joy you want to give me. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Sweet Memories, Laugh Out Loud

December 26, 1997: The kids didn't get to play in the snow too much yesterday before it melted. I said not to worry, there was a lot of winter left when it might snow. Sarah, laughing at herself, said, "I thought that today was the last day for snowing."

 

December 31, 1997: Some friends' were over yesterday watching a Noah's Ark movie with the kids. When the flood was about to kill the bad people, the little boy said something, maybe happily, about the people being killed. Rebecca said, reprovingly, "That's not funny. They're not going to get to go to Heaven."

 

January 2, 1998: Last night Murray asked the kids if they'd like to go to McDonald’s after supper for a soda and to play in the play area. Excitedly, Caleb said, "Daddy, I just like you, and I'm glad I live on earth!"

 

January 3, 1998: Kathy came downstairs the other day and found Caleb and Rebecca busily engaged in something. "What are you guys doing?" she asked. "I'm teaching Caleb to write cursive," Rebecca replied, "Because he's not learning it in school."

 

January 4, 1998: Murray and the kids were in the car today, purchasing gas at an unmanned pay-at-the-pump place. Rebecca was reading the posted warnings and, as the van filled and Murray climbed in to begin logging the purchase, Rebecca said, "You just left a pump unattended,” (which the sign said not to do).

 

Later, in the van, there was a lively discussion of traffic infractions, penalties, etc. Murray said that one infraction was driving through a red light. Rebecca said that Murray did that once. Murray said that yes, he accidentally did that once, and "You saw how upset I was that I did that. I didn't even get caught by the police, but I was very upset." Sarah said, "You could call the police and tell them you're sorry."

 

January 6, 1997: Murray was telling the kids about the people in his family, and he said, "Manly, Mark..." Rebecca jumped in, "Luke, John." A couple days later, we were laughing about her saying that, and Rebecca said, "I bet you wrote that on the computer."

 

January 12, 1998, Yesterday, Murray thought he had given Sarah a piece of bread at dinner. "No,” she said, “You tried to, but I rebuked you.”

 

January 14, 1998: Last night Ping-Hwei said there was something he wanted to write down so he could put it on his computer at school. He said, "My family, funny, call me Bubby and Boss." (his two nicknames)

 

January 19, 1998: Caleb has an alarm clock that has a rooster that crows. This morning Sarah knocked on my door and said, "I heard Caleb's hen crow."

 

January 21, 1998: This morning Sarah told me to kiss her on her hair head. Then she rubbed it in and said, "It's slipping down to my heart."

 

When Ping-Hwei wants to play one of Benjamin's musical toys, he says, "I want to give Benjamin a listen."

 

When someone holds the refrigerator door open, Ping-Hwei sternly tells them to close it and says, "Babba (Dad) needs to pay!"

 

Sarah was trying to butter a piece of bread and was having difficulty. Her explanation for why the clump of butter wasn't spreading: "It's not concentrating." 

Friday, February 5, 2021

John 9, Grace and Truth

The man in this story is one of my biggest heroes.

 

Verses 1-3:  As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

 

Surely all of his life, the blind man heard people saying that either his or his parents’ sin had caused his blindness. He lived in this shame; still, the only way he could feed himself was by begging out in public.

 

Verses 6-7: After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

 

Had the man heard that Jesus healed people? Anyway, he obeyed him, and was glad.

 

Verses 14-17: Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided. Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” The man replied, “He is a prophet.”

 

This man probably had no education, but he spoke with confidence to his neighbors and, to the Pharisees. Though his parents were afraid of the Pharisees, the man born blind bravely called Jesus a prophet.

 

Verses 18-34: They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?” “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

 

He surely knew he would be treated harshly, yet he challenged the Pharisees, with knowledge and assurance, when they spoke against Jesus.

 

Verses 35-38: Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

 

And in the end, he made the right decision, to worship Jesus. 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Happy 60th!

Yes, it is true. I’ll be 60 in a few weeks. As that time approached, I could feel a bit of unease.

 

But now, I am so excited!

 

My new book, Gifts of Grace, is being released on my birthday, February 23.

 




What a lovely 60th birthday present.

 

I wanted to challenge myself with a couple things in these three novellas.

 

It’s been more than forty years since I moved away from our family farm. I decided it would be fun to set a story on a farm.

 

Besides the internet, my research included questions for my brother Jim, who is currently raising cows on our home place. This story was delightful to write.

 

I also wanted to have a main character be blind.

 

Since I am visually impaired, it seems like this would be easy for me, wouldn’t you think?

 

But, even though I have to struggle to put much visual description in my writing, it certainly is easier to go by the assumption that everybody can see everything.

 

Facial expressions, body movements to show emotions and feelings toward others. Visual recognition of where things are located in a room or in an outside setting.

 

“She blinked, then turned her back to me and walked to look out the window.”

 

“My stomach clenched and my hands grew moist as soon as I saw him turn the corner and come toward me.”

 

I didn’t go into great detail about how the blind character performed everyday tasks, and I found that the story flowed more naturally than I’d expected.

 

I enjoyed writing these characters’ stories, sharing in their relationships.

 

Gifts of Grace

 

Three novellas. Three women search with hungry hearts, and God shows them surprising answers.

 

Tammy needs a new goal to fill her empty nest, and she needs to find forgiveness for her heart.

 

Mourning the loss of her baby, Judy flees to the home she abandoned twelve years ago. The family farm. Is something new waiting for her at this old home?

 

Iola, who is blind, struggles to prove herself as a professional and to be the mother her sixteen-year-old daughter needs during a rough time.

 

Watch as God opens doors these women would never expect.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Gifts-Grace-Kathy-McKinsey-ebook/dp/B08T7ZHLMZ 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Guest Author, Sherri Stewart

Welcome my guest, Sherri Stewart. Her book, A Friend in High Places, sounds like a delightful, surprising read.

 




Hi, I’m Sherri Stewart. I love writing clean novels, sprinkled with romance and a strong message that challenges your faith. I spend my working hours with books—either editing others’ manuscripts or writing my own. My passion is traveling to the settings of my books, sampling the food and visiting the sites. Sadly, my trip to Pasadena was cancelled due to COVID. I’m a recent widow and live in the Orlando area with my lazy dog, Lily, and my son, Joshua, who can fix anything. I share recipes, tidbits of my books’ locations, and pix in my monthly newsletters. Subscribe at http://eepurl.com/gZ-mv9

 

 

A Friend in High Places is my first attempt at time travel romance, which is a new genre for me. I usually write romantic suspense or historical romance. Once a year, my publisher asks for volunteers for different novella collections, so this year I signed up for a genre outside my comfort zone. And surprise, I really enjoyed writing it. And no, it isn’t sci fi, fantasy, or hocus pocus. The book is about a niece who has to clean out her aunt’s attic and discovers things about her aunt’s past that both surprise and sadden her. All the characters in the book are named after the members of my cousin, Claudia’s family. Of course, I asked for permission ahead of time.

 

A bit about the plot. Kelly Thomas must settle her Aunt Claudia’s estate. She stays in her aunt’s Pasadena bungalow while she plans the funeral and goes through her favorite aunt’s things. During the burial service, she notices an elderly gentleman standing next to a tall red-headed man away from the crowd of mourners, so she approaches them to introduce herself. What she discovers about the old man’s identity rocks her world apart. Aunt Claudia has always been her hero, and Kelly has modeled her life after her independent aunt. Now she’s confused. She thought her aunt’s husband had died in the war decades before. Kelly enlists the help of Chris, the young man with Mr. Collins at the cemetery, to help find the truth. They discover that a simple misunderstanding decades before led to the demise of a beautiful romance. If only she could go back to the sixties to fix it.

 

Each of my main characters has a bit of me in them. They are believers, but there is some issue they’re dealing with, such as grief, envy, guilt, unforgiveness, or lack of self-confidence. In this book, Kelly has grown up resenting being her parents’ second-best love. They are missionaries, working with Aids children in Nigeria. She knows they are doing God’s work, but she wants a more normal life, like that of her Aunt Claudia, with whom Kelly spent her summers in Pasadena, California, while her parents were overseas. As a child she loved going to the studio with her aunt, who worked as an assistant producer.

 

As a former teacher and principal at a Christian school, I often taught missionary kids (mk’s) and pastor’s kids (pk’s). Not all but many of them had issues that the other kids didn’t have to deal with—having to behave a certain way, being socially ostracized, and being left alone a lot because their parents were busy with the church. My son was the principal’s kid, so you can imagine what that was like!

 

 

I’m what’s called a plantser. That means I write a rough summary of the book beforehand, and then I write by the seat of my pants. Sometimes the book takes a glorious detour. It was a God moment when  the #MeToo movement came to mind. What if Hollywood actresses and studio workers of the sixties were warned about their so-called auditions ahead of time? What if the producers were also warned about what could happen if they didn’t treat women with proper respect?

 




Here is the purchase link for A Friend in High Places:

 

https://amzn.to/3syemu2

Friday, January 15, 2021

Resh, Psalm 119:153-160

ר Resh

Look on my suffering and deliver me,

    for I have not forgotten your law.

Defend my cause and redeem me;

    preserve my life according to your promise.

Salvation is far from the wicked,

    for they do not seek out your decrees.

Your compassion, Lord, is great;

    preserve my life according to your laws.

Many are the foes who persecute me,

    but I have not turned from your statutes.

I look on the faithless with loathing,

    for they do not obey your word.

See how I love your precepts;

    preserve my life, Lord, in accordance with your love.

All your words are true;

    all your righteous laws are eternal.

 

Father God, thank you for the great compassion you have for us. Thank you that we can call to you from our suffering, that we can beg you to help us with our requests. You love us, Lord. Stay near. 

Friday, January 8, 2021

Lord, Tame My Tongue

James 3

Verse 6: The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

 

Lord, I am angry at what is happening in our country. I want to speak out with anger and blame, and demand consequences.

 

Verses 9-10: With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

 

Verses 14-16: But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

 

I long for righteous justice, Father, but does this come from my own selfish desires?

 

Verses 17-18: But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

 

Lord, tame my tongue. Help me to strive for your wisdom and peace. Help me to slow down my anger, make room for your grace, and wait for your justice.