Monday, July 21, 2014

Video Devotional: Living Outside the Box of Fear

Living within safety perimeters, is like 
living in a box made of fear.(Click to Tweet)

"Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you." Deut. 31:6

"Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you," 
declares the LORD. Jeremiah 1:8

God didn't create us to live stuffed into the shadows 
listening to our fears. (Click to Tweet)

Have you created a box to keep yourself safe? 
What one thing can you do today to begin living outside of that box? 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Best Reason to Ask “What If?”

Across town from friends, I often experience vastly different weather than they do. Welcome to Nebraska!

Recently, less than 20 miles from my house, tennis ball size hail tore up Blair, Nebraska. We saw the storm line of clouds from our back patio, but had no damage. Not really even any rain. In Blair, sides of houses look like someone took a  machine gun to them. A major car dealership experienced hug damages to their inventory.

Not too long after that storm, another one moved through the region. Barely anything came down at my house. Afterward, I was surprised to learn that only about an hour to the north of us, twin tornadoes touched down, bringing destruction to Pilger, Nebraska.

I thought about this later. How we can be so close to destruction, but totally unaware of it. We go on with our lives while others just a short drive down the road are having their lives destroyed.
I think we do the same thing with people and their private hurts.

Sitting next to us on a bus or standing in line at the store is someone who may be hurting, but we judge other people’s actions based on OUR reality- which happens to be just fine at the moment.

We get upset when they look at us with a sour expression or raise their voice or get impatient with us.

Normally “what if” only leads to regret and shame. It can paralyze us and bury us in. Maybe this is an appropriate time for “what if”.

If we knew what they were walking through, we might have compassion on them. What if they are hurting? What if they just experienced a financial hardship? What if someone they loved just died? What if someone just abused them?

We might offer a hand up instead of a hand out the door.

Next time you are tempted to make assumptions about the stranger who infuriates you based on your own current reality, stop and ask yourself “what if”.

What if this person doesn’t know Jesus? What if this person has lost faith? What if this person has never met an authentic Christ follower?

That one simple question might just lead to a changed life and a new friend. This is one “what if” you may regret NOT asking.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Spotlight: Annie's Stories by Cindy Thompson

The year is 1901, the literary sensation The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is taking New York City by storm, and everyone wonders where the next great book will come from. But to Annie Gallagher, stories are more than entertainment—they’re a sweet reminder of her storyteller father. After his death, Annie fled Ireland for the land of dreams, finding work at Hawkins House. 

But when a fellow boarder with something to hide is accused of misconduct and authorities threaten to shut down the boardinghouse, Annie fears she may lose her new friends, her housekeeping job . . . and her means of funding her dream: a memorial library to honor her father. Furthermore, the friendly postman shows a little too much interest in Annie—and in her father’s unpublished stories. In fact, he suspects these tales may hold a grand secret. 

Though the postman’s intentions seem pure, Annie wants to share her father’s stories on her own terms. Determined to prove herself, Annie must forge her own path to aid her friend and create the future she’s always envisioned . . . where dreams really do come true.

Get your own copy:
For various retailors go HERE
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My Thoughts on the book:

Annie’s Stories is well crafted. Cindy Thompson has done a great job with the details of setting and characters. You will walk away feeling as though you have experienced a bit of the times and have come to know the people in Annie’s life.

Set during the time when Ellis Island welcomed many from distant places, when the Wonderful Wizard of Oz first became popular, Annie’s search for belonging mirrors Dorothy’s own struggle to find a place called home.

You will cheer her own as she uncovers secrets, confronts her past and bravely faces her future.
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An Interview with the Author
Have you always been a writer? If not, what was your previous occupation? No, not professionally anyway. I’ve also loved making up stories. I’ve been writing for publication for about 15 years. I was a teacher--kindergarten and preschool--and gave that up in 2003. I still teach in one way, however. I mentor students in the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild.
If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why? I just heard this question asked on the radio to an ex baseball player who was doing play by play. I liked his answer so I’ll borrow it in part. He said in the future he knew he would get to meet Jesus, so that wasn’t his answer although it’s who he’d most like to meet. Then he said General Custer, who would not be my pick. I think I’d like to meet Abraham Lincoln. I’d love to know if he really said those things people said he did. He must have been a brilliant man.
Do you have a separate space set up in your home or a favorite place to write/be creative? Yes, I have a fantastic office. It’s the only second floor room in my house reached by a spiral staircase. It looks out over the trees in my yard so it’s like being in a tree house. I have all my books and resources there and it’s my personal space where most of my work gets done.
What advice do you have for others aspiring to publish a book of their own? Don’t get in a hurry to publish. It’s so easy to do now that so many people are rushing to print before their books are ready. It takes time to learn the craft, something people don’t usually like to hear. But if you work hard and allow yourself time to learn the most you can you will end up with a book people want to read. You want only your best out there. It’s a flooded market. Readers aren’t patient with subpar work.
What is your book about? Annie’s Stories is about finding home. Home is where the people you love are, so we are only at home in the hearts of those who love us. Annie believes she’s lost all that and she relates to Dorothy Gale in the “new” book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. But while Dorothy wants to go home, Annie knows there is no going back there for her.
Did you plan out the entirety of this story or did some of it evolve as you wrote it? A big part of it did evolve as I wrote, or re-wrote as I should say. I had a major re-write to do on this book basically because I did not plot it out well enough. That is a lesson learned for me. But the basic theme I did know ahead of time. When I proposed it my agent told me it was the best thing I’d written thus far. I do love this story. It was so much fun to write because of its bookish theme. The male protagonist is a voracious reader and I enjoyed exploring what people in 1901 would have been reading.
Do you plan on writing a sequel to this story? Annie’s Stories is book two in the Ellis Island series. Book one, Grace’s Pictures, was published last year. While some of the characters appear in both books, they can be read alone. I do have a start on book three but no publication date.

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Cindy Thomson is a writer and an avid genealogy enthusiast. Her love of history and her Scots-Irish heritage have inspired much of her writing, including her new Ellis Island series.

Cindy is also the author of Brigid of Ireland and Celtic Wisdom: Treasures from Ireland. She combined her love of history and baseball to co-author the biography Three Finger: The Mordecai Brown Story, which was a finalist for the Society for American Baseball Research's Larry Ritter Book Award.

In addition to books, Cindy has written on a regular basis for numerous online and print publications and is a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She is also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Historical Novel Society.

Cindy and her husband have three grown sons and live in central Ohio. Visit her online at
Connect with Cindy:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Video Devotional: Which Report Are You Listening To?

God promises to guide us and bring us through 
when the going gets tough. (Click to Tweet)

Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, 
and you will honor Me."Psalm 50:15

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. Psalm 43:2

"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you 
into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, 
but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose 
to you what is to come. John 16:13

Listening to a report of doubt moves us further 
away from the heart of God.  (Click to Tweet)

Who will you believe when faced with challenges and troubles? 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Listening to God

“My turn.”
“You interrupted.”
“No I didn’t.”
“See, you did it again.”

Sound familiar? If you have kids, you probably hear it more than you like. Everyone has something important to say. 

One morning when my daughter was younger, I started to sing a blessing to her. She giggled then started off on her own tangent. Mildly offended and hurt that my words were unimportant, I suddenly had the urge to keep it to myself.

As she skipped off to her chores, I considered my responses to God’s words. When I am uncomfortable with what He has to say, do I laugh at his blessings?

When I was a senior in high school I almost received my first kiss one evening, but was so nervous I laughed. The moment was gone and the “blessing” lost. Do I loose God’s blessings the same way?

Is it hard to believe that He loves us so much that He wants to bless us? Do we reject first before we’re rejected?

My son often rushes past what I have to say with “okay, I get it, move on Mom.”

Do I do the same with God? Do I feel like I’ve already heard it before so He doesn’t need to go through it again?

At our dinner table, everyone bites at the bit to get their two cents worth in. Not really listening and responding to the other individuals, but making sonic leaps into their own world. During prayers I often rush directly to what I need instead of first listening to Him.

My feelings were hurt by the simple actions of my daughter – do I hurt my heavenly father in the same way?

Unlike my fleshly response of clamming up, He keeps whispering in my ear until He gets my attention. I am awed by His great patience toward me. So I determine to return to the throne room of the Almighty and listen more than I talk.

What kinds of things in your life interfere with listening to the voice of God?

What one thing can you change to hear God better today?

(Blog re-posted from my site from 2 years ago)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Video Devotional:Getting Rid of Me-First Mentality

How do you respond when you don't get your way?

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:3-5

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Spotlight: Moon Over Maalaea Bay by H.L. Wegley

In an instant the Maui honeymoon of Lee's dreams morphs to a nightmare when Jennifer disappears on their wedding night. Were the abductors the trafficking ring Jennifer crippled or does an even a more sinister organization want her for other purposes?

With the clock ticking toward Jennifer's impending sale, Lee, accompanied by their fifteen-year-old foster daughter, Katie, and Jennifer's grandfather, begins his own search of the island. As the search by Lee and the authorities intensifies, he fears beautiful Katie might end up in the crosshairs of the traffickers.

Can Lee save both his bride and his future daughter? What if he has to make a choice? If Jennifer is sold, could she kill herself to avoid a life filled with degradation and horror? If she did, would God forgive her?

Get our own copy on Amazon 
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My take on Moon Over Maalaea Bay

H.L. Wegley has done a great job - again. I have read all of the books in this series so far and have enjoyed each one. He has created characters I care about, a problem worthy of attention and too big to ignore and a dose of faith discovery wrapped up in an intriguing story line. 

Even though he has brought apologetics purposefully into his writing, it is done in an unobtrusive manner that does not detract from the story. A fun ride with purpose. You are sure to enjoy this 3rd book of the Pure Genius Series. 

Be sure you read the message below about how H.L. Wegley incorporated apologetics into his books. Its encouraging to see how God can use whatever talents we have if we allow Him to. 
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A Message from the author...
My Approach to Apologetics in Christian Fiction

Beginning in the 90’s I studied Christian apologetics for more than 10 years. At that time there was a dearth of good books on the subject and a need for Christians to challenge the false philosophies becoming prevalent in our culture. So, I planned to write a textbook or Bible study materials on that subject.

Shortly after I began, the real experts—Ravi Zacharias, Gary Habermas, William Lane Craig, J. P. Moreland, and a host of other apologists—people who had devoted their lives to defending the faith, started publishing far better works than I could have written. They added to the old standards by CS Lewis, Josh McDowell, and Norm Geisler.

After writing a few chapters, and accumulating a library of over 2000 books on the subject, I realized my time was best spent serving God in other ways, and I had a knack for, and enjoyed, writing fiction.

The plot of my debut novel threw a devoted Christian man into a difficult, dangerous situation with a brilliant agnostic woman, a woman who was also a seeker. This story allowed me to incorporate some of my accumulated apologetical knowledge in the story. Maybe my years of study would not be wasted.

As my Christian character began answering the agnostic’s questions, a pattern emerged which I have followed for most of my novels. Beneath the main storyline are two apologetical threads.

In the first, the Christian main character’s words answer the unbelieving character’s intellectual questions about Christianity, the common objections to our faith.

In the second thread the Christian main character’s actions reveal the characteristics of God and his nature that satisfy our deepest human needs, including the existential cries of my seeking character’s heart.

As apologist Ravi Zacharias emphasizes, the greatest barriers to faith are the existential questions raised by the pain of living life in this fallen world. People lose loved ones. They are hurt by "church people." Or, they blame God for other disappointments and bad circumstances.

If I'm successful in using this approach, believers will  take away answers for the hope that they have (1 Peter 3:15), and nonbelievers will find intellectual and existentially satisfying answers to their questions, reasons they should embrace the Christian worldview and follow Jesus.

In Moon over Maalaea Bay, 15-year-old Katie, only a few weeks old in the faith, finds a way to help a human-trafficking victim who has a hatred of men, a young woman who has difficulty with God being presented as "heavenly father" because of what men have done to her.

In my fourth and final book of the Pure Genius Series, my heroine answers every major objection to the Christian faith as the agnostic hero throws the questions at her periodically throughout the story. These confrontations create a lot of conflict, a good thing for suspense story, and they provide short, pithy answers readers can share when they have to give a reason to others for the faith they have (first Peter 3:15).

It is my prayer that the apologetical approach in the Pure Genius Series will change readers’ lives and equip believers to share their faith. 
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The Author

H. L. Wegley served in the USAF as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. In civilian life he forecasted weather and performed research in atmospheric physics. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he worked 20+ years in distributed computer systems development at Boeing before retiring near Seattle, where he and his wife of 48 years enjoy small-group ministry, grandchildren, hiking on the Olympic Peninsula, snorkeling Maui whenever possible, and where he writes inspirational thrillers and romantic suspense novels. He is currently starting his 9th novel.
Connect with H.L. Wegley: 
Author Website (interim/under contruction)