Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fan Don't Fear

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2Timothy 1:6-7

God gifted me with words – the speaking of words and the writing of words. For years I wrote Bible studies and even Christian fiction only to share them with a select few people.

One day I was confronted with the fact that God expected me to do more with the words He was giving to me. He was pushing me to pursue publication. But, was I good enough? Could I handle publishers’ rejections which were surely to come? I was afraid – timid.

But, as the verse above illustrates, God did not give me that fear. I was letting the enemy keep me from fanning the flame of my writing gift. God had power and self-discipline and love to offer, but I had to choose those instead of my apprehension.

My first published book came out in July of 2012, and God has allowed it to encourage readers in their faith. Because I overcame the fear of using my writing gift, God has used it for His glory. This is why I was given the gift in the first place – to glorify Him.

Are you afraid to do what God has called and gifted you to do? That fear is not from Him; He would have you fan your gift into a flame to glorify Him. He will give you the power, love and self-discipline to accomplish what He calls you to do. Don’t miss out on the blessings.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

In Christian Fiction I look for ...

Are you like me? Do you enjoy reading Christian fiction?

The other day I was thinking on what it is specifically that draws me to this genre.

The first aspect that draws me in to Christian fiction are good characters. What makes up a good character?

First, the characters have to be believable. Yes, I'm reading fiction, but a writer can't stretch what is in my realm of belief about a human being. And, as I'm getting to know this character, I come to expect her or him to behave in certain ways. If she or he does something outside of what would appear reasonable for her or his personality, I might just put the book down.

Characters also have to be real. By real I mean I like to think that I could meet this person on the street someday. Real characters allow me to relate more naturally to their personality and what is happening to them.

A no-no for me is when a character is a dead-on stereotype. Of course there are character types, but every person is unique and an individual. I like to think that my book characters would be the same.

A surprising aspect that I don't care for is over-description of a character. I've read in writing craft books that when a reader is picturing a character from a book, the reader should picture the character in his or her own unique way not see exactly what the writer did when writing. In other words, when reading about a first grade teacher, the reader should picture his or her first grade teacher, not the author's. And, I'll admit, too much description makes me skim and skip.

Some recent characters stand out for me.

Emma from ALWAYS THE BAKER, NEVER THE BRIDE by Sandra Bricker. This character has everything I look for and then some. She has some little quirks thrown in that are so appealing. In fact, all of Bricker's characters match up to what I feel is needed for a good Christian fiction character.

What about Kate from MY STUBBORN HEART by Becky Wade? Explained enough that I pictured her my way. Real and believable and yet unique.

Charlotte from WAITING FOR SPRING by Amanda Cabot. This character's emotion tugged at me, and I found myself pulling for her until the very end.

I could go on and on. The three character examples I listed above are from recent reads.

Do you have an example of a character that was just what you like? Share in the comments.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

He Holds My Hand

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.
Psalm 37:23-24

There are times that a scripture is so timely. The above two verses were right on time when I needed to read them this week.

It's nice to know that God directs my steps because I am His. When it comes to finding my way around, I'm referred to as: directionally disfunctional. I have to have exact directions to a location or have my hubby drive me there ahead of time so I can find my way to my destination. Why do I mention this? Well, if I don't stay in line with God's way, I can get off track left to my own steps. I need to keep my focus on Him and His will for me so I know the steps to take.

The next line of the verses blows me away. Can you imagine the Creator of the universe is interested in the details of our lives? Hard to fathom but this verse says it is true. God cares and even delights in every aspect of our lives. Thus, all of those steps He is directing us through, He delights in watching us take them.

Are we going to flub sometimes? Can I get a hearty yes? But, notice this verse assures us that though we might stumble, we're not totally knocked out. God is holding our hand. I get a picture in my mind of a toddler learning to walk. We are like that wee one - we are going to fall down and fail sometimes. But, just like a parent, God is there to pull us back up and assure us that we will soon accomplish or overcome obstacles.

Are you letting God direct your steps? If not, I challenge you to reach out in faith and take His hand. His path is the best way - not always the easiest but the best.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Abundant Living

My friend, Brooke, and I have been studying the book, ONE MONTH TO LIVE. The content and questions have been enlightening as well as challenging. At the beginning of each chapter, the authors have included some quotes that I have found interesting. I wanted to share one with my readers here.

Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. --Howard Thurman

This makes me think of John 10:10 - depending on your version of the Bible this is that verse that talks about having the full life or life more abundant.

I'll admit - I often live in the safe world doing the same old monotonous things over and over. Why? I believe one reason is because I don't tap into the Power Source who can boost my life to full and abundant. And, wants to! God wants to give me a life I could never dream of or could ever accomplish without Him and his power.

Lately, I've tried to stay connected to God, keeping my focus on Him and His Presence. I read something the other day that said that God holds to my right hand. So, when I need to feel His Presence near, I've been squeezing my right hand as if I was grasping His Hand a little tighter.

I don't need to curtail to what the world deems acceptable. I need to delve into the passion God has given me which will make me come alive. God has given me a passion to write stories. When I write them and share them, I come alive. When I come alive in this way, I share God's words with those who need them.

The world needs people who are fulfilling the passions God planted into their hearts, making Jesus come alive through them.

What do you need to do today to come alive? Grasp His hand and do it!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Guest: Staci Stallings

Welcome, Staci. 

The Hole
I was reading “How People Change” by Timothy S. Lane and Paul Tripp the other day.  In it there is a story about a hole.  They call it the Gospel Gap.  Basically, it’s that hole in everyone’s life that can only be filled by God.
However, they say (correctly) that we try to fill that hole with all kinds of other things that don’t fit and instead get stuck in there.  As I read, I was reminded of another true story that happened in a town not far from where I live.
The reason I remember it is because my husband is a carpenter, and he works on schools.  So when it happened, guess who they called.
Here’s how it went.
I live in the Panhandle of Texas and that year it was dry.  I don’t mean drier than normal.  I mean it was DRY!  And windy.
Well, this school had a drain pipe at one end of the roof of the building.  The roof was sloped slightly toward the pipe so that rainwater would drain down it.  Great idea except they forgot one tiny detail–the wind.
It had been dry so long that the wind had carried all of the trash and tumbleweeds and junk over to that drainpipe where they lodged.  Some went in the drainpipe, some stayed stacked against it.
Do you see where we’re going with this?
One day, over that particular school they got what my mom always called a “gully-washer.”  In short, it rained several inches in one spot over the course of about an hour.
Following me, yet?  Do you see the problem?
Here’s a question for you–what happened to that rainwater?
Clogged drainpipe.  Lots of rain.  Nowhere for the rain to go.  It gets heavier and heavier until…
You got it:
The roof collapsed!
Which sent all that junk and all that water all over that part of the school.  What a mess!
As I read this description of things that clog our God hole, I thought about this school.  That’s what happens to us.  We start filling that hole with things–material things, ministry things, money, social networks, whatever, and pretty soon, the God water can’t get through!  In fact, many of us experience a “dryness” in our Christian walk when our God hole is being filled with other things.  We can’t quite figure out why we don’t feel close to God.  When water comes–either blessings or trials–it can’t drain out of us.
So it sits there and stagnates, and sometimes it actually collapses part of our life roof.  Maybe we hit burn-out.  Maybe our marriage hits the rocks.  Maybe we end up with kids we don’t even know.  Maybe we just feel our lives are one, freak thing away from completely collapsing.
The point is to start now to unclog that God hole.  Pull out the weeds of anger, resentment, and discontent.  Learn to forgive and to let go of control.  Stop putting all of your faith in material things and money.  As you do these things, replace their spot in your life with God.
Prayer.  Church.  Slowing down the craziness.  Good Christian music.  Quality time with your family.  Putting God first.
Whatever you choose, get that thing unclogged before you have a REAL problem on your hands!
Copyright Staci Stallings 2012

Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a #1 Best Selling author and the co-founder a new website that gives Christian readers and authors a place to meet and fellowship.  With a newsletter, a blog, a forum, and other exciting, inspiring areas to visit, CrossReads visitors can find fabulous Christian books they never knew existed.

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Prince Charming

Once again, humor this proud mama and check out my daughter's post over on the Samie Sisters blog for a different take on your ultimate Valentine.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Can you relate to being just plain ol' worn out? After a day of chasing twenty four-year-olds, I then had to come home and grade homeschool tests and quizzes. Then, I had to go to church and lead my children's choir and then rush off to adult choir. Whew! Wednesdays feel like they will never end.

This morning when the alarm went off, I slammed the snooze button and groaned. I was just so tired I didn't want to move. Pulling the covers over my head and going back to sleep seemed like a good idea except I had to get up and prepare to face those little ones again.

Finally, I dragged myself to the bathroom for a shower hoping for reviving there. That helped, but I still trudged down the hall with a lackluster swagger.

When I settled in to read my devotion this morning, my eyes popped open at the first line: "Come to me for rest and refreshment." OK, You've got my attention.

I was reading in JESUS CALLING by Sarah Young. The next couple of lines really spoke to me.

"The journey has been too much for you, and you are bone-weary. Do not be ashamed of your exhaustion. Instead, see it as an opportunity for Me to take charge of your life."

Those words comforted and encouraged me. God knows I'm going to wear out sometimes, but I need not let that get me down. He's there to help me along as I take it step-by-step.

Because I'm in a battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil, I will experience exhaustion. I have to focus on Christ and follow His path for me.

If you're feeling worn out, focus on Him and remember His words: "Come to Me all who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you for my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

When the Lord says we can yoke to Him, it means He will share the burdens with us. This means we can handle it with Him by our side. We can make it through the long day. We can praise Him for the rest we can only find in and through Him.

Thank You, God, for seeing me through this day. Great is Your faithfulness!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Marriage Conference

Normally, I post to this blog on Mondays and Thursdays if at all possible. I'm sure many thought I fell off the edge of the earth since I didn't post on Thursday. But, I wanted to save the space to report on my weekend.

This weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a marriage retreat that my hubby and his pastor/buddy planned. It was entitled: Reconnect.

We arrived Friday afternoon and checked into the Music Road Hotel and Conference Center in Pigeon Forge, TN. Our accommodations were beautiful, and the staff was friendly and helpful.

At seven we met in our conference room with 16 couples present in all. Our speakers were Randy and Jeanne Davis. They began what they called RED weekend.

The first session focused on the R in RED - remember. We were encouraged to recall what had attracted us to our spouses. Randy was quick to admit that his wife's legs made his list three out of five times. Also, we thought back to the wedding day. We then recited some re-commitment vows and had punch and wedding cake.

Our next session on Saturday focused on E - expectations and enjoy. Thinking back on expectations we brought into our marriages, we focused on the expectations we should have for one another. We also discussed how to enjoy one another, and the importance of laughing.

The session for D was discussing dreams. Randy brought up the verse in Scripture that says: "Where there is no vision, the people perish." This is true of marriage too. We have to have a vision - a dream for where we're headed.

On Saturday evening the couples had the opportunity to have a "date night."

Sunday morning we ended our weekend with worship in song and word. Randy spoke on Jesus' first miracle at a wedding turning water into wine.

That is just a very short run-down, but I did experience a reconnect with my hubby. It was great to get away from the busyness that is our life and focus on one another for a change.

I would encourage couples to take time to reconnect with one another. As was mentioned this weekend, when we entered our marriages, we didn't enter into a contract but into a God-ordained covenant. God would have our marriages be a little slice of Heaven on earth, but this doesn't happen without some effort on our part and joint-reliance on God.

To quote Jeanne: This IS my happily ever after!

What might God do in your marriage if the two of you rededicated yourselves to Him and His plan? I don't know about you, but I think I'd like to try it and see.

To hubby: Love you, Babe - you're still my prince!