Friday, May 13, 2022

Grace and Truth, John 13:31-38, Our Assignment to Love

Jesus lovingly called his disciples “My children.” He warned them that soon, he would no longer be with them.

 

Verse 33: “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

 

Jesus left them, and us, with a huge assignment, to love each other as he loved us, to show the world we belong to him.

 

34-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

 

Peter promised that he would die for Jesus. Jesus was fully aware of Peter’s coming denial. Yet, above, he called him his child.

 

36-38: Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”

Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”

Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

 

Lord, I yearn to be a sign of your love by the way I treat others. Thank you for loving me as your child, even with all the times I’ve failed you. 

Friday, May 6, 2022

A Great New Friendship

I always thought of myself as a good daughter. As soon as I left for college, I started calling my folks every week. Back in the days when letters were more common, I even wrote once a week.

 

A few years ago, when I got a cell phone with unlimited hours, I thought, why not call Mom twice a week?

 

In the summer of 2020, my mom had knee surgery and was in the hospital and rehab for most of July. I know how not fun it is to be in the hospital, so I called her every day.

 

Once she went home, I had a brilliant idea. Why not continue calling her every day? My husband Murray asked why I’d only been calling her twice a week before. My only answer was, “Habit.”

 

I usually call Mom around 2:00 in the afternoon, when a TV show she likes to watch is over. I love this time we have together so much.

 

I was never really a good daughter. When I was younger, I didn’t want to talk to my parents about personal stuff. As I aged, I thought I shouldn’t say anything that might upset or worry them.

 

Really, it was pretty much always my mom I spoke with. My dad wasn’t much of a phone talker. But he’s been gone for 13 years, and my mom lives alone now.

 

I hope my mom feels the same, but I really enjoy the new relationship we have.

 

Some days we struggle to find much to talk about. Other days we go on for nearly an hour, and if Murray asks what we talked about, I have a hard time remembering anything.

 

We discuss our physical complaints. Mom told me she read in a women’s health book that our bladder is the size of a walnut. Sounds about right.

 

We love talking about food, what we’re having for dinner, what we’ve cooked lately, eating restaurant food.

 

Recently, Mom had a doctor appointment to go to. Afterward, she sat in the car while my brother went into the store to get a few things. She told me about the people watching she enjoyed doing.

 

Of course, it’s always easy for me to talk about my kids, and Mom tells me about my brothers and other relatives.

 

Mom, Lila Mae, is an artist. She tells me she’s done some drawing, but most of her art is done through quilting, crocheting, embroidery, patterns she follows and ones she makes up.

 

I must have inherited that desire from her. I can’t come up with any of my own patterns, and I can’t do all she does, but I love to knit and crochet.

 

We love talking about things we’re working on, new patterns. It’s nice to be able to ask her questions about a crochet project I’m working on.

 

We laugh. We’re sad. We gripe. Weather is an almost daily thing to complain about.

 

It’s all such a joy to me. I could feel sad that I let so many years go by without enjoying this wonderful person in my life, but what good would that do? I just thank God for the gift he’s given me to share with my mom every day now. 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Guest Author Chris Posti, God is Amazing

Thank you, Chris. This is a lovely and fun book.

 

God is Amazing.

 

We know that. Yet it’s worth taking our time to think about the ways He has worked in our lives.

 

For example, a reporter recently asked me if my work experience was used in writing my novel, Falling Apart, Falling for You.


 

You bet it was! I recounted for him a few experiences that proved particularly helpful. In my first job, I worked as a secretary, where I learned how to type fast and accurately. A few years later, while living in Switzerland, I taught English by day and spoke French in public.

 

Back in the States, I started my own consulting business, which initially provided services such as training and speeches. In an effort to gain credibility and visibility, I wrote a Sunday newspaper column on careers and workplace issues—even hosted a talk radio show on those topics. I also self-published some nonfiction books relating to my work.

 

Later on, I narrowed my focus to just two areas: executive coaching and job search consulting. For the executives I coached, we often worked on their written communications. When I did job search consulting (called “outplacement” in corporate America), employers paid me to help a “terminated” employee write their resume, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles, in addition to many other parts of their job search.

 

As you can imagine, all these efforts refined my writing skills.

 

Frankly, at this point in my life, I was feeling pretty puffed up about my writing ability—until the Lord led me to write a novel.

 

About that, I discovered, I knew nothing.

 

Nothing.

 

Such a humbling experience.

 

Perhaps you are questioning if your background is “enough” for writing a book or for any other new challenge. As you have seen by all the experience I listed above, I certainly had a strong writing background, yet it was not “enough” to write a novel. Only the Lord could provide what I needed to get that novel written. He gave me every idea, every word, every twist & turn, every laugh in the entire book. Then, He gave me a publisher—the very first one (and the only one) I queried.

 

Jehovah-Jirah certainly did provide. He will provide for you, too, if you trust in Him and not yourself.

 

 

He is Amazing.

 

You can count on Him.

 

Through all the trials, His Word spurred me on. Here is one of my favorite verses:

 

I am the Lord your God,
    who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

            Psalm 81:10

 

I give Him all the glory.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Guest Author, Carol McClain, Hope for the Hopeless

Thank you, Carol, for this precious reminder.

 

Hope for the Hopeless

Have you ever fallen so low you know you’ll never find forgiveness?

I have. Fortunately for you and me, I’m not going to bore you with the silliness of my self-loathing. Mostly, I understand redemption, and we don’t need to revisit my tortuous climb back to reality.

I think many people have felt too unworthy to have God’s love. However, we have good news. Something you already know but need to be reminded of. Jesus loves you. Faith in him and his sacrifice on the cross redeems you. It saved me, and cleansed sinners like C.S. Lewis, an erstwhile atheist; John Bunyan; Simon Peter; King David, and Rahab, to name a few.

Even today, Christ’s love redeems the unredeemable. Here’s an incident that haunts me from a conversation I had with my husband. Neil, and I were discussing forgiveness and heaven. In my very self-righteous manner, I made a statement along the lines that I hoped Hitler never got around to repenting. He’d ruin my eternity.

Then Neil sucker-punched me with the following truth. “If Hitler repented, then he’d be in heaven, and you’d never feel this animosity toward him. It wouldn’t be possible to hate in heaven. God would love Hitler as much as anyone else.” Neil made the statement more intense. “Maybe you’d love him too. Heaven can’t hold hatred.”

I couldn’t breathe as this truth overwhelmed me. God’s love is so great, so inscrutable that he could forgive the unforgiveable. People like Judas, Hitler, Putin, and the guy who cut you off in traffic and totaled your car, are loved by our heavenly Father. Had they repented and truly turned to Christ, they’d be redeemed.

Trust me, no one’s fallen so low that God’s love can’t redeem.

In my book, Prodigal Lives, Book 2 of the Treasured Lives series and the sequel to Borrowed Lives, Pearl Solomon knows she’s destroyed her life. After years of lost contact with her sisters and foster mother because of her jealousy, she has nowhere to turn when her life spirals into the depths of hell.

It’s a novel filled with love, pathos, family, redemption, and my trademark humor.



Back Cover Blurb

Life keeps piling problems on Meredith Jaynes. She loses her second foster child—one she was scheduled to adopt. Then Parker Snow refuses to marry her. With only her goats and artisan soap to support her, life will get no better.

If she is honest, though, she still has Crystal. Her funny, happy, loveable toddler makes the sun shine and reminds her of the never-failing love of God.

Pearl Solomon loves her life with her grandfather Guy, but every one of her triumphs is overshadowed by her sisters’ lives. With Mama Meredith, they live a life she envies. Because of her jealousy, she refuses to contact them.

Years later, life for both families twist down paths they do not wish to travel. Pearl knows she’s lost what was most precious in life but has no means of fixing things. Left to her own devices, she spirals out of control.

Meredith finds it harder to mask the despair infertility has brought to her life.

Both families believe they must reconcile themselves to their fates as reality shatters their dreams unless they dig deep for the promise of love.

Buy now: https://www.amazon.com/Prodigal-Lives-Carol-McClain/dp/164949551X/ref

Bio




Carol McClain is the award-winning author of four novels dealing with real people facing real problems. She is a consummate encourager, and no matter what your faith might look like, you will find compassion, humor and wisdom in her complexly layered, but ultimately readable work.

Aside from writing, she’s a skilled stained-glass artist, a budding potter and photographer. She lives in East Tennessee with her husband and her prized goats. Buttercup will be a mommy around the time you read this. Welcome to the new kid on the block named Mousse or Moose.

You can connect with her at carolmcclain.com.

She also can be found on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/author.Carol.McClain

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14030286.Carol_McClain

 

Friday, April 15, 2022

The Joy of Jesus

At this time of year, we often talk of Jesus’ suffering, the horror, the tragedy. I never want to minimize that. I want to grow in my thanksgiving for all the pain Jesus went through for me.

 

But I also think it is good for us to remember, at any time of year, how great was Jesus’ joy and desire to bring us safe home to God.

 

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.

 

This verse takes my breath away. Jesus scorned the shame of the cross because of the joy set before him. We are that joy. And because Jesus looked forward to the joy of having us in his family, he endured the cross.

 

Romans 5:6-8: You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

Jesus loved us, and died for us, while we were still sinners.

 

Isaiah 53: 11: 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.

 

In this passage which describes Jesus’ horrible suffering, it says he will be satisfied.

 

Matthew 28:18-20: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 

Jesus offers us the opportunity and power to work with him to bring others to be part of his family.

 

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.

 

Jesus lives now to speak to God the Father on our behalf.

 

Jesus, teach us more fully to understand how important we are to you. I love you, Lord. 

Friday, April 8, 2022

Psalm 6, A brave Plea

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. According to sheminith. A psalm of David.

Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger

    or discipline me in your wrath.

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;

    heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.

My soul is in deep anguish.

    How long, Lord, how long?

Turn, Lord, and deliver me;

    save me because of your unfailing love.

Among the dead no one proclaims your name.

    Who praises you from the grave?

I am worn out from my groaning.

All night long I flood my bed with weeping

    and drench my couch with tears.

My eyes grow weak with sorrow;

    they fail because of all my foes.

Away from me, all you who do evil,

    for the Lord has heard my weeping.

The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;

    the Lord accepts my prayer.

All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;

    they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.

 

Lord God, thank you for allowing us to cry to you when we are in such pain. Thank you for accepting our prayers, and thank you for your mercy. Lord, thank you that you have put my enemy, Satan, to shame. I love you, Lord. 

Friday, April 1, 2022

Kathy's Kitchen, Nutty Shakes and Two Slow Cooker Chili

It’s no April fool—you get two recipes this time.

 

From Mary:

 

Two slow cooker Chili

 

Ingredients:

4 pounds lean hamburger meat

1 pound breakfast pork sausage

1 large onion

2 packages (1 ounce each) Williams Chili Mix

4 bottles (12 ounces each) Heinz Chili sauce

1 cup Pace Picante Medium Chunky Salsa

2 cans chili beans (My daughter Christie substituted the equivalent of one can of beans with leftover bean soup.)

 

Chop the onion. Cook the onion with the meat in a large skillet. With a slotted spoon, dip the meat and onion from the skillet and add the other ingredients to a large bowl. Stir. Cook in two medium slow cookers for four hours.

 

 

NUTTY SHAKE 

 

I found this shake recipe in some of my old files when I was searching through for memoir-worthy stuff. I have no idea where I got the recipe from, or when, because there was no date, but I was tickled that it says to pour over the sink. That does sound like a suggestion I would be liable to give in Kathy’s Kitchen, or even in a lesson as a rehab teacher.

 

Ingredients:

5 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

2 cups milk

2 cups chocolate ice cream, softened

 

In a big bowl, place the peanut butter; pour in the milk and mix with a fork. Add ice cream; mix with an egg beater until    everything is foamy. Pour the milk shake into four glasses.  Pour over the     sink in case you spill. 

Friday, March 25, 2022

Grace and Truth, John 13:1-30, Love to the End

Verse 1: It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

 

Jesus loved his disciples until the last minute he was with them.

 

Verses 4-5: so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

 

He washed his disciples’ feet, giving them a lesson and example to serve each other.

 

Verses 8-10: “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”

 

Jesus calmly dealt with Peter’s usual impulsivity.

 

Verses 18-19: “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’

“I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am.”

 

He continued to teach them Scripture, and worked to increase their faith.

 

Verses 21 and 27: After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”

As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.”

 

I believe Jesus had loved Judas, and it broke his heart that Judas was betraying him. And though the other disciples didn’t understand what was happening, Jesus dealt honestly with Judas.

 

Thank you, Jesus, for your strength and for your love. 

Friday, March 18, 2022

Stories of Grace and Friendship

These are some precious new and older books I read recently.

 

A Matter of Trust by Susan May Warren. This is a story of rescuers during snow avalanches in the mountains of Montana. A reminder for us not to base our belief that God wants to help us on our opinion of ourselves. He wants to save us despite our messing up. Romans 5: 8: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

True Courage by Dee Henderson. I first read this book some years ago. But when I read it again recently, I was caught by breath-taking suspense, deep characters, heart-swelling dependence on faith.

 

The Church Ladies by Lisa Samson. An excellent story. About—well—church ladies.

 

Take this Cup by Brock and Bodie Thoene. the story of a young boy who came from a far country to deliver to Jesus the cup he would use at the last supper.

 

The promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry. A brilliantly written, heart-stopping story of the beauty and anguish of love among family and friends.

 

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. I first read this book more than forty years ago, probably in high school. It’s an amazing story about teenagers, written by a teenager. About brothers, friends as close as brothers, struggles between gangs from different social classes, who hated each other without knowing why. After heart-breaking experiences, a few of the kids began to realize the enmity was senseless. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. 

Friday, March 11, 2022

Psalm 5, The Shield of God's Favor

For the director of music. For pipes. A psalm of David.

Listen to my words, Lord,

    consider my lament.

Hear my cry for help,

    my King and my God,

    for to you I pray.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;

    in the morning I lay my requests before you

    and wait expectantly.

For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;

    with you, evil people are not welcome.

The arrogant cannot stand

    in your presence.

You hate all who do wrong;

    you destroy those who tell lies.

The bloodthirsty and deceitful

    you, Lord, detest.

But I, by your great love,

    can come into your house;

in reverence I bow down

    toward your holy temple.

Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness

    because of my enemies—

    make your way straight before me.

Not a word from their mouth can be trusted;

    their heart is filled with malice.

Their throat is an open grave;

    with their tongues they tell lies.

Declare them guilty, O God!

    Let their intrigues be their downfall.

Banish them for their many sins,

    for they have rebelled against you.

But let all who take refuge in you be glad;

    let them ever sing for joy.

Spread your protection over them,

    that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;

    you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

 

Father God, thank you that I can wait expectantly for your answers to my prayers. Lord, I know you hate evil, but in my heart, I want to be righteous before you. Thank you that you will lead me in your righteousness, and please shield me with your favor. 

Friday, March 4, 2022

Grace and Truth, John 12:37-50

Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:

“Lord, who has believed our message

    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:

“He has blinded their eyes

    and hardened their hearts,

so they can neither see with their eyes,

    nor understand with their hearts,

    nor turn—and I would heal them.”

Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.

Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

“If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

 

Jesus stayed focused on speaking the message God gave him to speak.

 

Yet, knowing that Jesus was a man, with human emotions, I believe he must have felt hurt and alone when people refused to believe in him. Or, if they did believe, some would not say so as not to face conflict with the Pharisees.

 

Lord, thank you for sticking to your message. Thank you for being the force that saves us from darkness, and for bringing the command which leads to eternal life. 

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Guest Author, Angela D Shelton

 

Oh, you’ve gotta love them doggies! Thank you, Angela for sharing with us.

 

Covered in Mud

By Angela D Shelton

 


We love our furry children. Ricky and Lucy are always up to something. One of my favorite “bad dog” stories is when we’d first purchased the farm and were out working on fences. We brought the dogs with us, but since they are both runners, they had to be contained. It was too hot to leave them in the truck while we worked, so we set up a dog run between two trees.

            Each of them had their own lead, so they could freely run about eighty feet, in the shade of the trees, or out in the sun to bask if they preferred. They often played together, so there was also the ability for them to be together or move apart. They had plenty of room to entertain themselves while we slaved away in the scorching sun, repairing wires and clearing the fence lines.

            After the workday ended, we checked back on the two hooligans under the trees. I honestly expected to see them taking a nap. Yes, I was na├»ve then. I know better now.

            As soon as they saw us coming, they ran to the front of the trees from where they’d been busy working, covered in mud. Apparently, their job for the day was to dig a tunnel to China, or so they thought. They were so excited they weren’t even ashamed of the fact that they were filthy with red Georgia clay. Stains covered their paws, snouts, bellies, and tails.

            The hole was deep, so it was obvious they’d teamed up and devoted their day to accomplish the goal. You should have seen their faces, huge doggie smiles, happy with all they’d accomplished.

            Unfortunately, we didn’t need a gigantic hole dug under our tree. We also didn’t want filthy pets to bring into our vehicle or our clean home. They didn’t get rewarded for their efforts. What a disappointment to them, I’m sure.

            It made me think back to some of my previous work efforts. I’d work for hours at a project and couldn’t wait to share how much I’d accomplished. I’d have a grin a mile wide on my face, ready to have praise heaped upon me.

            How frustrating when I’d find out the project wasn’t what someone needed, or the method used was flawed, or any of a zillion other reasons that I don’t get positive feedback. As a younger professional, I’ll admit I didn’t handle this type of rejection well.

Most of us go through a growing phase of learning how to deal with constructive criticism. As you mature, you learn to take in those minor blows to the ego and grow from them. Some who’ve been around long enough can take it one level above that—how to learn from criticism that isn’t constructive.

Let me share a life lesson with you, my precious reader. If you want to move in a positive direction in life, you need to learn how to deal with your mistakes positively. Not all people, even those who end up in authority, can provide feedback in a way that builds up instead of tearing down. Accept the concepts they are sharing and evaluate whether there is a basis for improvement. Use any nuggets you can find to improve your end product.

Never stop growing. As soon as you do, you’re dead in the water. And that isn’t where any of us want to be.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 NIV

<<>> 




My upcoming novel, Collapse: The Death of Friendship is on presale with Amazon with a release date of March 25th. It’s the perfect gift for the young adult in your life. A brief synopsis:

On the verge of losing friendships forever, sixteen-year-old Jan Worthington decides never to trust people again. But when she rejects all strangers in a collapsing society, she must learn to be smart about outsiders before her family has to fight off the marauders headed their way.

 


You can sign up to be an Advance Copy Reader (ARC) on my website and be the first to read my latest novels for free:

Visit our farm at: http://www.twooaksranch.com

Check out my blog at: https://www.angeladshelton.com

See featured authors at http://www.chainlinkstory.com

Collapse: The Death of Honor on Amazon Now

Friday, February 18, 2022

Sweet Memories, Funny and Sad

November 30, 1998: Sarah walked away from the table one morning, after hearing the cat meow. "I need to see if she's in trouble or just talking."

 

Sarah was talking about a story with a greedy pig in it. She said they made that pig wait to eat until the other pigs got “their fillings.”

 

December 7, 1998: Rebecca was seeing her doctor today. "How much do you weigh, Rebecca?" "I don't know... Yesterday, I weighed 51 pounds."

 

Murray got a haircut the other day. When he came home, Ping-Hwei came to me and said, "Why Baba cut hair?" “Did he?” I asked. "Yeah. Maybe bald," he told me.

 

December 15, 1998: Murray called for Kathy, and Caleb answered the phone.  "Hi. Is Momma there?" Caleb answered, "Yes, she is, but I want to talk to you for a minute," and proceeded to tell Murray about his day.

 

December 16, 1998: Rebecca is accompanying Kathy on the piano for a Christmas special at church this Sunday. It's hard and Rebecca's never been enthusiastic about it. Yesterday she said, "I'm still planning to get out of doing this."

 

This morning I told the kids that some friends had bought some Gideon's Bibles, maybe to put in hotels, that would have written in them "In Memory of Weaver McKinsey." (This was Murray’s father, who died earlier that month.) Caleb said, "But it says in Revelations that we're not supposed to write anything else in the Bible."

 

December 19, 1998: Last week one day I told Sarah to take a shower. She said she wanted to finish coloring a picture from school first; she said she was almost done. I said, no, to take a shower first. Later, she came to talk to me in the kitchen.  I was hurrying to finish supper and didn't pay much attention to her at first; I kept telling her to scoot. Finally I heard what she was telling me, very seriously. "Mommy, I know you feel better when you tell the truth. When I said I was almost finished coloring the picture, I lied. I just wanted to color it so bad. I'm sorry."

 

December 25, 1998: Last night we were getting ready to go to the Christmas Eve service at Church. Sarah asked me to help her find a dress to wear. She said, "Daddy said I only have five minutes, and you know how fast Daddy makes minutes."

 

Rebecca was playing a bunch of songs from a book this morning, and she said, "I can play Johnny rowed the boat ashore."

 

December 26, 1998: Yesterday when we were getting ready for supper, Caleb mentioned disappointedly that Christmas day had gone by so fast. Rebecca said, "Let's pretend we're bored, and it will go by slower."

 

December 30, 1998: Murray and Kathy were in the car and Murray rubbed his eyes. Sarah asked what was wrong, and Murray said that it was a hard, hard world. Sarah said, "Especially for little girls who get sooo bored. And for parents, who tell their little children not to say 'bored' and 'not fair' and not to beg and beg when they say no. I'm lucky, because I still have a daddy to snuggle up with."

 

January 4, 1999: Sarah's friend Karianne stayed over Saturday night to celebrate Sarah's birthday. She forgot to bring a hairbrush. When they were getting ready for church yesterday, Sarah told me matter-of-factly, "Karianne didn't bring a brush so she needs to borrow ours; she doesn't have lice." Amazed, I said, "Did you ask her?" "Yes," Sarah replied.

 

January 12, 1999: Murray and the kids were in the car, with 3helium balloons. Caleb asked, "What if these didn't just have helium, what if they also had air?" Rebecca said that helium WAS air. Caleb answered quietly, "Actually, it's a gas. A very, very light gas."

 

Later, Rebecca was working on some math problems such as "3.8minus 2.5", and she told Kathy, "These are all dismals." 

Friday, February 11, 2022

Psalm 4, A Prayer From David

    For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of David.

Answer me when I call to you,

    my righteous God.

Give me relief from my distress;

    have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

How long will you people turn my glory into shame?

    How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?

Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself;

    the Lord hears when I call to him.

Tremble and do not sin;

    when you are on your beds,

    search your hearts and be silent.

Offer the sacrifices of the righteous

    and trust in the Lord.

Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?”

    Let the light of your face shine on us.

Fill my heart with joy

    when their grain and new wine abound.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,

    for you alone, Lord,

    make me dwell in safety.

 

Father God, thank you for this example to show, it’s okay to cry to you when we hurt and need your mercy. I do not want to shame you. Lord God, I long to be set apart for your service. Help me cleanse my heart, to find the peace and safety you offer. 

Friday, February 4, 2022

Writing a Memoir

I’ve started working on writing a memoir. A story about our family, especially when the kids were small. We have about twenty years of lists written down of funny, sweet, amazing things the kids said, which we call “Kids’ Lists.” We’ve shared these with our families, and I’ve posted some on my blog.

 

We’ve talked for years about me writing our story, since we have an unusual family. I am blind, and I was a stay-at-home mom for nine years. We have five kids, four disabled, three adopted from Taiwan.

 

Everybody’s grown and on their own now, so this seemed like a good time. I have a heap of old journals and letters and emails to read through. I’ve barely begun.

 

I’ve been looking through old emails and some of the spotty journals I’ve kept over the years. It’s been interesting, sometimes sad, sometimes funny reading.

 

The journal I’ve read so far was from the middle 90s, when most of the kids were pretty small. I wrote very honestly about my thoughts, some sad things, my insecurities with my disability, my doubts about myself as a wife and mother and Christian.

 

I know most families struggle, but I cringe at some of the things I wrote about Murray and me arguing, mean things I said to the kids. Reading through my journal makes me feel teary, seeing some of the times when I struggled with depression, some of the stress and strain we were under in our marriage with a bunch of small children.

 

I worried if this is the kind of memories the kids have of their childhood, when what I remember is how much I loved staying with them at home.

 

I mentioned to my daughters about the sad things I found in the journal, and Sarah said it was probably okay that I had that hard stuff written down, that I was maybe using the journal as a way to deal with the sad thoughts I had, an outlet.

 

Rebecca said with a journal, a person might write mostly during hard times, using it to vent. She said during good times, we’re just busy being involved with what we’re doing. Some good advice from my adult daughters.

 

I did find so many wonderful memories. There were times when the kids showed their great faith in Jesus, even when they were so young. I’ve found sweet notes Murray and I wrote to each other, and other fun stories that weren’t written in those kids’ lists we’ve read a lot over the years. I read cute and hilarious things the kids did, great questions they asked.

 

I mentioned in my journal about my hopes to be a writer. I’d wanted to write since I was a teenager, but didn’t have time to do it when I worked and raised the kids. I said I’d write again when I retired. But this shows how in the really busy years when I was staying at home to take care of little children, I was still thinking about it, including some fiction pieces I wrote right in my journal.

 

A possible title for our story I’ve talked about with my kids for years is “Seven Around the Dinner Table.” Other titles: “No Family Like Ours,” “Memories of Grace,” and “Showers of Beauty.”

 

Recently, I’ve considered “A Big Ol’ Goofy Family.” This is an idea I got from “It’s a Big Old Goofy World” by John Prine. Murray and I picked this as “our song” after almost 34 years of marriage.

 

In the memoir, I want to focus on the good, funny, fun things. The truth is, we were not perfect parents. But the good things I’ve recorded are also true.

 

I can’t change any bad memories the kids have of their childhood, but I want to offer this book as a gift for all of us, good memories. The truth is, we loved the kids so much, and we wanted to help them grow up to be kind and capable people who love Jesus.

 

I still have many old documents to go through. I’m finding fun things I didn’t remember, information about the adoptions, and I have so much more to go through. What a sweet, eye-opening journey this is proving to be. 

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Guest Author, Heidi Gray McGill

This is a fantastic story. Heidi, thank you for joining us today.

 

 

Thank you for inviting me to be with you today! I’m super excited to share about my newest release, Dial E for Endearment, especially since February is Low Vision Awareness Month.

Everly, the main character in Dial E for Endearment and I have something in common, but it may not be what you’d expect.

I’m an author of Christian Historical Fiction and Contemporary Romance, and the retired Director and Founder of an ESL program. I regularly walk 12 plus miles a week in my neighborhood, care for my grandsons as often as possible, scrapbook, read voraciously, cook but do not bake, and am legally blind. That last phrase was difficult for me to say out loud not that long ago.  

Vision loss does not discriminate.

It is generally estimated that Retinitis Pigmentosa affects roughly 1 in 4,000 people. My diagnosis in 2001 of this rare eye disease was devastating. There is no cure, and there is no surgery. But that does not mean there is no hope. Those who do not know me well often don’t realize I have low vision. As humans, we are amazingly adaptable, and I do a pretty good job covering up my disability. My friends have learned to watch out for me and alert me to potential pitfalls, some better than others, which is always good for a laugh.

Being blind is certainly not something I would have chosen, but it does not define me.

When I wrote this story, I purposed in my heart to shed light on blindness in a lighthearted, relatable fashion.

I use a white cane when I am out and about on my own, but I’m usually with another person who helps guide me. One of the most significant challenges in writing this book was ensuring Everly acted and responded in a way that would resonate with other white cane users. Everly’s personality is upbeat, yet she carries the burden of a poor relationship with her mother. Being authentic and realistically portraying life is essential to me, so I had to do some soul searching and people watching to understand human nature better. 

I also share my faith in Jesus Christ through my writing, fleshed out through the story’s characters. Although my book is not evangelistic, it does show how Jesus Christ can be an integral part of life and how leaning on Him can bring tremendous peace and fulfillment.

I’d love for you to join me on this fun adventure and see for yourself that God does not discriminate. You’ll laugh your way through mishaps—most of which may have happened to me at some point. But most of all, you’ll learn that we ALL have value, and that includes YOU.

 



 

Everly knows fulfillment, but not love—not even from her mother. She wants a man who can open her eyes to everything she cannot see and make her feel more than a girl with a white cane.

 

Everly Johnson is every man’s dream of the perfect date, even though none of her audience has met her. As host for the Choose Joy segment of JOY Radio in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, she receives countless gifts of flowers and candy on behalf of her admires, which she promptly donates to her mother’s assisted living facility. Everly wants words--heartfelt, meaningful endearments meant for her ears only. She wants a man who will open her eyes to everything she cannot see to make her feel more than just the voice behind the mic.

Cameron Boyd struggles to make eye contact with anyone, let alone say something coherent unless it is the one-way conversation he has each Friday with Everly Johnson. Date night for Cam involves sitting alone on his back porch overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains while he dreams of things to say if he were ever to call in to her show.

A chance meeting changes everything.

Will Cam be able to step out of his comfort zone and into the world he has only been able to envision in his mind? Will Everly trust this stranger with her life as well as her heart?

Tune into JOY Radio to find out!

 



 

Heidi is an optimist who chooses to find the silver lining in life’s clouds of doubt. This plays out in her writing. Her ability to seamlessly weave scripture into the lives of her characters will uplift and encourage you, while her masterful storytelling will keep you turning page after page and wishing for more. 

Heidi lives with her husband of thirty years near Charlotte, NC. When she isn’t writing, you will find her outside playing with her two grandsons, walking, scrapbooking, reading, cooking, traveling, or finding an excuse to have an outing with a girlfriend… as long as they’re driving.

If you’d like to connect with Heidi, here are a few ways:

Website: http://heidimcgill822089357.wordpress.com/author/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/heidigraymcgill

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/choosingjoynovels/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20851872.Heidi_Gray_McGill

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/heidi-gray-mcgill?follow=true

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorHeidiGrayMcGill

All Author: https://allauthor.com/author/heidigraymcgill/

FREE BOOK with Newsletter sign up: https://heidimcgill822089357.wordpress.com/contact/

Friday, January 21, 2022

Kathy's Kitchen, Betty's M&Ms Monster Cookies

I don’t remember where I found this, but I do thank Betty. They are delicious!

 

Betty's Kitchen

They are big in size and big in flavor!

 

M&Ms Monster Cookies

 

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, firmly packed

3 eggs

2 cups creamy peanut butter

½ teaspoon light or white corn syrup

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

4 ½ cups uncooked old fashioned oats

2 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup M&Ms candy-coated chocolate pieces

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

cooking oil spray

 

In a very large bowl, beat 1 stick softened butter, 1 cup granulated sugar, and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar until light and fluffy, using medium speed of an electric mixer.  Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add 2 cups peanut butter, ½ teaspoon light corn syrup, and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, and beat until well blended.  In a separate large bowl, stir together 4 ½ cups old fashioned oats, 2 teaspoons baking soda, and ½ teaspoon salt.  Add oat mixture to butter and sugar mixture, beating well on medium speed.  Stir in 1 cup M&Ms candy-coated chocolate pieces and 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips.  Pack dough into ¼-cup measure.  Place dough 4 inches apart on a cookie sheet or baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking oil spray.  Press each cookie into a 3 ½-inch circle, using the back of a spoon or your fingers.  Bake at 350 degrees (F) for about 12 minutes, or until cookies are beginning to brown around the edges, but are still slightly soft in the center.  Cool for about 5 minutes in the pan.  Use a spatula to gently move them to a cooling rack to cool for about 30 minutes.  You may serve these cookies warm, but they will crumble a little.  Children (as well as adults) love these cookies; I think they are great to have at Easter, because they are so colorful.  Enjoy!  --Betty

 

In Kathy’s kitchen, I made bar cookies with this. I poured the dough in a 9 by 13 inch pan and baked it at 350 for about 30 minutes. Next time, I may leave it in the oven a few more minutes. Cooking is an experimental art. 

Friday, January 14, 2022

Grace and Truth, Jesus' Steadiness, John 12:12-36

Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem is sad to me. So much joy and belief, and yet we know what would soon follow.

 

Verses 12-13,17-18:

 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the king of Israel!”

Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him.

 

Jesus knew his crucifixion was near, and he was troubled, yet he continued his ministry and preached God’s salvation to the end.

 

Verses 26-28:

“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

Verse 36 “Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

 

Thank you, Jesus, for sticking with what you’d always planned to do. 

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Guest Author, Jennifer Slattery

 

Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your discoveries with us. Leave a comment. Jennifer is offering the gift of a print copy of Her Small-Town Refuge to one reader.

  



When people ask about my writing journey, I suspect most want to hear about my steps to publication. Like, when I first realized I wanted to write or how I met my first publisher. But while those steps, at the time, felt monumental, looking back, I realize God did His greatest work within me.

 

Book covers will fade, pages may one day fall out, but the soul lovingly crafted by our Savior’s hands will last forever.

 

When I first realized my call to write was indeed a call, I went from awed and insecure to prideful and expectant. Initially, acutely aware of my newbie status, I joined every Christian writers’ organization I could find. I took classes, went to conferences, worked with critique partners, finished novels, submitted queries, deleted rejections, went to more conferences and worked with more critique partners …

 

After a few years of this, I was sure I was ready for that coveted book contract. I was quite frustrated with God for withholding this, in fact. I began to look around at all my friends and colleagues, some who’d been writing for a lot less time than I had, who were receiving three-book deals.

 

Insidious lies began to steal my peace and joy. Lies like: God’s holding out on you. God’s blessing her and not you. You’re wasting your time.

 

Then, in the middle of a stressful (aka frightening) season I reacted. After receiving a harsh email I should’ve ignored, I typed and sent an angry response.

 

I immediately felt the Holy Spirit’s conviction and apologized, but it was too late. The individual forwarded my email to at least seven others, an act I learned about when one of those recipients contacted me to “school me” on proper Christian behavior. I was mortified by the exposure but even more so by the ugliness the interchange revealed within me.

 

Later that night, as I was lying in bed, I received another email, this one offering an exciting ministry opportunity. One I probably would’ve jumped on, had the invitation come a few days prior. But in that moment, all I could think was, “I’m not ready.”

 

I knew God had a lot of work to do within me before I could faithfully carry a platform for Him. And so, I closed my eyes and prayed, “Lord, do whatever necessary. Purge me of my pride, selfishness, and defensive tendencies, and fill me with Your love.”

 

The years that followed were tough. I lost a dear friend to brain cancer, and developed, in a deeper way than I had before, a focus on eternal things.

 

I became sick, for a while so sick I had no interest in writing and never thought I would again. Through that experience, God taught me to find strength in Him.

 

A year later, partially due to the stress my illness placed on our family, my daughter battled a scary depression and acquired her first of three bouts of shingles. Oh, how I wrestled with mama guilt! But I also learned to trust in grace, in the God who promised to turn all things, my failings and the wounds they caused my daughter included, to good. For my good, yes, but for hers as well.

 

That was also the year I discovered what it meant to pray without ceasing.

I don’t believe God caused any of my hardships. I’m certain, however, that He used every moment to grow and mold me, because that’s how faithful He is.

 

My pain wasn’t wasted, nor was the gift He planted within me.

 

Years and oh-so-many tears later, I received “the call;” My first publishing contract. And I knew I wasn’t any more ready to carry a platform for Christ than I had been when I first gave Him my yes. Only now, I was aware of weakness and how desperately I needed Jesus, every moment, every typed word, every email, and every contract signed.  

 

I’ll probably never feel “ready” for any of the opportunities God has allowed or will yet provide. But that just means I’ll turn to Him, listen for His guidance, and lean hard on His strength, all the more. And when I blow it? Because I know I will. I’ll find a quiet place to sit with Him, repent, yield to His transforming work within me, then I’ll celebrate His grace and begin again.

 




Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who has addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and other writers across the nation. As the founder of Wholly Love Ministries she and her team help their local, national, and global community experience increased spiritual and emotional freedom through an ever-deepening relationship with Christ. She cohosts, with Grace Fox, the Your Daily Bible Verse podcast and also cohosts, with her Wholly Loved Ministry team, the Faith Over Fear podcast. She also maintains devotional blogs found JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and is a regular contributor to iBelieve.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Contact her through her website to book her for your next women’s event. 




 

Her Small-Town Refuge

 

To secure the future she’s been wishing for,

she must earn her boss’s trust.

Escaping to the Texas Hill Country with her daughter for a vet tech internship is Stephanie Thornton’s chance at a safer life. But when medicine goes missing from Caden Stoughton’s struggling vet clinic, all evidence points to Stephanie. With the new life she’s been searching for hanging in the balance, Stephanie must convince Caden to trust her with his business…and his heart.

 

Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/-/es/Jennifer-Slattery-ebook/dp/B09C2D79TY