Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Part of God's Mosaic

Today, author Jane M. Tucker joins us with some
 thoughts about being a part of God's mosiac!

My first novel is coming out this week. It’s getting good reviews, and I’m really proud of it, and that’s a problem. I’m proud.

Pride. The sin that begins so attractively, and ends in a pit of despair.

Hebrews chapter eleven describes many people who accomplished great things by faith in God. I have sometimes heard this chapter called the “Hall of Heroes,” or the “Faith Hall of Fame.” These titles conjure images of a museum where the portraits of Bible heroes like Abraham, Moses and Rahab hang on the walls. Gold name plates nailed to the picture frames tell who they were, and what they did.

The idea feeds my pride. Someday, I’ll be as great as they were. Someday, I’ll deserve to hang in that hall, too. It isn’t a healthy way to approach my faith walk.

Because the “Hall of Fame” idea is a trap for me, long ago God gave me a different visual: A mosaic, made of millions of different stones, each one reflecting His light with infinite beauty. In the Master’s hands I am a stone, tumbled to a high polish by time and trial, until I am fit to take my place among all the other precious and unique stones in His timeless design.
Click to Tweet

The idea of a mosaic is reflected in Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (emphasis mine).

The mosaic image holds three advantages for me:

I measure myself rightly. I’m not so much a portrait, grandly set apart in a gallery for all to see. I’m a stone, precious to my maker, but not more so than His other precious stones.

I see myself in relationship with other believers. Our triune God is all about relationship. One lovely stone is admirable, but it gains even more beauty when placed with all the others to form a greater whole.

I remember that God wants everyone to join his family. A missing mosaic tile is instantly noticeable. God needs all his precious stones if his artwork is to be complete.

Now, let me be clear: The portrait painter and the mosaic artist are only metaphors for a God we cannot fully describe. Metaphors clothe the intangible with concrete images, but they are limited. Martin Luther called God a mighty fortress, and David called Him a rock, and those metaphors also have their limitations.

What metaphor for God speaks to you today?

When she’s not gallivanting around New York, Jane M. Tucker works and plays in Overland Park, Kansas, with her husband and three nearly grown kids. She writes about the people and places of the Midwest on her blog, Postcards from the Heartland .

Connect with Jane
Twitter   Facebook   Pinterest   Sign up for her Newsletter 

About  Lottie’s Gift

She’s a little girl with a big gift.

Lottie Braun has enjoyed a happy childhood in rural Iowa. Her mother was gone, but she knew her father and older sister loved her and her aunts, uncles and cousins surrounded her. But the quiet, idyllic life she enjoyed as a child ended with tragedy and a secret that tore the two sisters apart.


Forty years later, Lottie is a world-class pianist with a celebrated career and an empty personal life. She moves from city to city, guarding her privacy with fierce vigilance, all to protect herself from the past. But one sleepless night, she allows herself to remember and she discovers that memories, once allowed, are difficult to suppress. Can she make peace with the past? Will she ever find her way home?

Get your copy:   Amazon     CrossRiverMedia

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Women in the Trenches: Fighting for our Marriage



For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12


Almost 4 years past discovering the betrayal in my marriage, I can testify that God has restored us and healed our hearts. Not that we have arrived at some marriage utopia, there is still a battle to be fought. There always will be in this life. 

But the battle is not of this realm. Our spouse is not the enemy. When our marriage is in trouble, we can cower in defeat or get out on the front line of this battle. Not fighting IN our marriage, but FOR our marriage. And regardless of whether this is a long drawn out or shorter campaign, here are 4 action steps to take to keep you on the right side of the battle lines.     

Make sure communication channels are open to command center. Keep communication with God unhindered. Keep our own life free of sin. Don’t give the devil an opportunity. Stay in the Word and on our knees.

Wear your gear. Do NOT attempt to go in unprotected. Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us all about the armor we should wear.

Gather reconnaissance. Know who the enemy is and what his tactics are. Know the best way to fight the battle. The most reliable source for this is the word of God. The enemy’s approaches haven’t changed over the years and the word of God is full of tactics to use against him.

Bring back up. This is not a solo mission. God sent His Holy Spirit to lead, guide and direct us. He gave us the church to fight back to back and arm in arm. It’s important to get a Holy Spirit led prayer/support group to hold our arms up in the fight. Just like Ben and Hur did for Moses.

Go out in full array, dressed in the armor of God, praise Him before, during and after battle, and stand firm in the authority God has given you to fight!

Are you in the middle of a fight for your marriage? Without adding details, comment “yes” and I will pray for you this week. The Lord bless you and bring His peace and victory to your home and heart.

If your marriage is strong, can you share one or two things that has helped you become/stay strong?



Action Steps:

Verse: Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:7-10

Personalize it for a prayer: Lord, I submit to You and resist the hand of the enemy. Send Him far from my heart, my home and my marriage. I come near to You and repent. Make my heart pure, my mind steadfast. I grieve over the state of my marriage. I surrender my heart and marriage to You. Lift me up above the fray. Lead me in your way.


Challenges:
1- Read and pray this verse every day for a week. (Do your best to memorize it.)
2- Ask God to show you if there is anything you need to repent of. Do so to make sure communication lines are unhindered between you and God.
3- Journal about your journey to fight for your marriage. Allow yourself to grieve about what this battle has cost you. Allow the Holy Spirit – our comforter – to give you comfort.


In gathering reconnaissance, it can be helpful (in addition to, not in place of going to the Word) to search out resources to help us get a handle on understanding the particular issue plaguing our marriage. Or in dealing with our own heart issues. This may be a counselor, a mentor who has walked this road before you or a (biblically based) book. Click here for a list of books I recommend as valuable resources long the way.


Note:
If your marriage is strong, praise the Lord. These same tactics that are useful in the middle of battle, will be trustworthy in helping to prevent this war visiting your home.

If you are in an abusive marriage, be sure you (and kids if you have them) are safe.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Author News and Notes


The countdown continues...

Its hard to believe Where Healing Starts will release in only 19 weeks! Time certainly does fly.

Where Healing Starts is in the queue to be readied for publication.  Book cover reveal coming up before you know it, lots of fun planned for my blog tour, and great specials if you buy early.

My indie project is coming along nicely. Expect an announcement about that coming up next month!

The Growing Faith Facebook book club will be starting a new book soon. I'll announce which book in my May newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter here so you don't miss out. 


That about wraps up my news and notes. Have a beautiful day!


Give a shout out for something you are thankful for!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Pressing Forward


Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

In my first post of 2016, I wrote about my desire to focus on less in my life in order to make much of Jesus. I thought it was time to check in. The things I intended to blog about included: self, stuff, time wasters, money, food, entertainment, social media/marketing, attitude, my “rights”, distractions, religious activity, busyness, and work. 

Here’s the roll call as it stands:

Less social media? I’ve been blogging less because of…let’s just say life sidetracks me easily. And I’ve been on social media less…because I’m just plain tired of it. But I am going to have to pick up on this at least for a while since my book is releasing soon!

Less clutter? I started an online book club and invited folks over to discuss a book called “Clutter Free” in hopes to help me clear my house of stuff. I haven’t kept up with the book club, but I have a load in my car waiting to go to the thrift store.

Less busyness? I still struggle to not overload my calendar. At least I’m thinking about it and not just filling it up by default. I suppose that is a step in the right direction.

Less food? I am changing my eating habits. Mostly to deal with my brain fog. Not sure I’m eating less, but I am eating better.

Less entertainment? I’ve challenged my family to not rent any movies this year. So far we haven’t. And we cancelled the DVD portion of our Netflix plan (we still get streaming). And we still don’t have cable. We watch what we want via the internet.

 Less work? I am attempting to coral my work time like I would if I were going into the office. Success on that is hit or miss.

Less money? That is a tough one. I still can’t seem to come to the end of the month with money left in the envelope.

The rest? Still working on it!

I was feeling a bit discouraged that I haven’t followed through on my plans, but I suppose I have made a few changes. Not as many as I would have liked. And though I haven’t been keeping up with blogging about it, I guess that is a success of less work and social media. So onward I press. To become less, so Christ can become more in my life.

How are you doing with your one word focus or 
changes you hoped to make in the new year?


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Praying on the Hoof : How to find God-time in a Busy Season


Today, Kathy Nickerson joins us to share 
about praying anytime, anywhere.


When our four children were small, I dreamed of the day when they could all use the bathroom or pour milk without leaving a puddle on the floor in either case. I imagined time to read, pray, study, and worship in the silence of my little corner while they went about their perfectly formed, independent lives.

In that season, I stumbled upon a beautiful phrase from Ruth Bell Graham. She described staying home to rear children while her famous husband rushed around the world holding crusades. In those days, she learned to “pray on the hoof.”

Our children now live hundreds of miles away in their perfectly formed, independent lives. Yet, life keeps spilling milk around me. I expect it does the same thing for you. So, whether you have small children, work in a demanding career, or simply find yourself stacking the calendar from dawn to dark, here are some ideas for praying on the hoof until you find your quiet place.

Literally On the Hoof  Praying as you walk can benefit you body, mind, and soul. A quick turn around the neighborhood every morning before the family wakes might be worth the sleep-sacrifice. Plus, praying while you watch the sunrise tends to put things in perspective.

In the Shower  My thoughts are especially clear in the shower each morning. That’s why I keep a waterproof notepad and pencil on the shower wall. It is also a perfect place to communicate with God. The water drowns out other sounds and helps you listen for the Holy Spirit to whisper inside your soul.


Along the Road  Be careful here. Don’t actually pray while you are roaring down the Interstate. Focus. But lift your thoughts at the stoplight. Or take ten seconds when you pull into the office parking lot. Or while riding up the elevator. Pray for your family when you walk down the hallway. For your city as you climb the stairs. I know that isn’t enough. But, it is a start. It is a connecting point that keeps you from losing touch with your Source of Life when life is out of balance.

In the Kitchen  Singing your prayers is a wonderful way to communicate with God, and the kitchen is usually a safe place to experiment. Nobody is going to bother you there! Sing the psalms or a favorite hymn while you cook dinner. Or set your own thoughts to a familiar tune while you wash the dishes.

Before Bed In my novel Thirty Days to Glory, Catherine goes through a dry time of prayer. Her pastor tells her to simply put her shoes under the bed each night and say, “Thank you.” Then, pull them out each morning and say, “Please.” That works. I’ve tried it. 


The important thing is to find something that works for you. Some moment in the day when you stop, connect, and remember The Most Important Thing in the middle of all the busy. Blessings to you as pray. 

How have you made time for prayer when life is full?


Kathy Nickerson’s most recent novel is The Secret of Serendipity. You can learn more about her writing and her reputation as an Eternal Optimist at her website. Sign up for her free newsletter on her website and get a copy of Three Secrets to a Happy Life. 
Connect with Kathy:
  
About Serendipity
Kara Jane Bryant is planning a protest against her
family’s move from the city to the country in this middle-grade novel for girls or those who are still young at heart. But she did not plan on meeting the mysterious Mrs. Kirk or discovering the Secret of Serendipity. And that, of course, changes everything.

Get your copy:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

When Perceptions Bond or Fracture Marriage

Join me in welcoming Jennifer Slattery today as she shares some important insights on perceptions in relationships.

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, and devotions for Internet CafĂ© Devotions, the group blog, Faith-filled Friends, and her personal blog. She also does content editing for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas’ Firefly imprint, and loves working with authors who are serious about pursuing their calling. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.
~ ~ ~

Bond or Fracture


It’s the one relationship designed to bring about the most fulfillment, the one the Bible says will complete us—bring out our best and help us serve Christ most effectively. It’s also the one relationship that can hurt us most, but what if those things that are causing us the most pain exist largely in our minds?

We’re all wounded and we all harbor skewed perceptions. Most often, when faced with questions, uncertainties, and unknowns, we leap toward worst-case scenarios. We’ve all had people completely misread our intentions, assigning selfishness to loving acts or malice when we meant well.

That hurts, and creates fractures of distrust that, if left unchecked, can completely destroy our relationship.

In my twenty years of marriage I’ve found every wayward thought matters and paves the way for the next one. When we begin to assume the worst in others, soon that is all we can see. Worse, with every negative thought, our heart grows a little harder and more distant and pretty soon we’re caught up in a war that only exists in our mind.

But the converse is also true—when we begin to assume, and look for, the best in others, our spouse especially, not only do their admirable qualities become more noticeable, but our heart grows softer toward them as well.

The choice is ours, and it begins and is sustained by prayer, because on our own, we’re powerless to see beyond our past hurts. We all have inner lies—things we’ve come to believe about ourselves that are absolutely false but impact absolutely everything else, our perceptions most of all.

Click to Tweet

Let me give an example. I’ve struggled with the overall belief that I was unlovable and for years, this core belief affected the way I interpreted my husband’s behavior. If he came home from work tired and headed straight for the couch and remote, rather than thinking, “Wow, he must have had a hard day,” my mind jumped to, “He doesn’t want to be with you.” If he had a crabby afternoon, rather than wondering if he was dealing with work difficulties, heartburn, or lack of sleep, my mind jumped to, “You’re annoying him. He doesn’t want to spend time with you.”

See how my inner lie caused me to assume the worst—about myself, him, and our relationship?

With every negative thought, my defenses grew, and the wall separating my heart from his grew a little thicker. Add to this the fact that he had his own inner lies, lies that caused him to perceive my self-protective, defensive nature as proof of his negative assumptions and it’s no wonder we misperceived ourselves into a nasty, love-destroying cycle.

It took God’s gentle Spirit and perfect wisdom to pull us out.

It started with prayer. One day, by God’s grace alone, I quit praying for God to change my husband and started asking Him to change me. By this point, my heart had become hard and filled with gunk and in desperate need of deep cleaning. 

I surrendered it, gunk and all, to God and asked him to heal it. That was all. But that was enough, because a healed heart loves freely and fearlessly.

The more I prayed, the more God allowed me to see my husband—really see him. One evening in particular, my husband arrived home from work late. Sitting in the living room, I heard the garage door rumble open, then a gentle voice whisper, “Get him a glass of soda.”

Miracle of miracles, I obeyed and met my husband in the entry way with an iced cola. He looked at me, clearly taken aback, and in that moment, something flashed in his eyes. Gratitude, hurt, defeat. Complete exhaustion.

My heart wrenched as God unveiled my eyes to see how, in the midst of an incredibly stressful time at work, how tired and beaten down my husband had become. How had I not seen it before?

The answer? I’d allowed my insecurities and emotional baggage to taint my reality rather than seeking Christ’s perfect vision. The Bible tells us we have the mind of Christ. Pause to think on that for a moment. We have the wisdom of the all-knowing, all-seeing Creator residing within. So why do we allow all the gunk of our past to sabotage our view?



I learned something that day: When I look the bad, I’ll find it every time (whether it exists or not). But when I seek out the good, the pure, the lovely, the admirable and beautiful, I’ll find it was there all along.

What about you? Pause to consider your relationships. Do you tend to assume the best or the worst in others? How have emotional wounds from your past skewed your perceptions? How might asking God to change your perspective and soften your heart change things? Share your thoughts, feelings, and stories in the comments below, because we can all learn from each other.

~ ~ ~


Sometimes it takes losing everything to grab hold of what really matters. 

Women’s ministry leader and Seattle housewife, Alice Goddard, and her successful graphic-designer husband appear to have it all together. Until their credit and debit cards are denied, launching Alice into an investigation that only leads to the discovery of secrets. Meanwhile, her husband is trapped in a downward spiral of lies, shame, and self-destruction. Can they break free from their deception and turn to the only One who can save them? And will it be in time to save their marriage?

Read an excerpt at New Hope Publishers 
View scene location pictures for Breaking Free on Pinterest


Connect with Jennifer

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

God Nudges


Today, guest Jodie Wolfe joins us to 
share about God opportunities. 


Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were 
serving the Lord, not people.
Ephesians 6:7 (NIV)

Have you ever had a small child poke you to get your attention? Perhaps they keep prodding and poking you until they have your full focus. My oldest granddaughter had a habit of repeating herself over and over again until she got me to echo back what she had just said. Once I understood and affirmed her with the same information, she could go on to a new topic of discussion. This was a little difficult on the phone, when it was hard to understand her words when she was first learning to speak.

I think God often tries to get our attention like a small child does. He nudges us throughout the day. Write a note. Send a text. Give a hug. Stop by for a visit. Take a break from your work and spend time with your family. We get the message over and over.

At times it's easy to shove those prompts away until 'later', only to find out that we missed out on an opportunity to bless someone. We can be so busy we miss out on the chance to be God's hands and feet. We fail in the assignment He has given us. Our opportunity to serve Him passes us by.


Click to Tweet

When we choose to obey, we'll be surprised at how many more nudges the Holy Spirit sends our way. I don't know about you, but I don't want to miss out on serving God and others because I'm too busy. I want to learn to serve Him wholeheartedly and follow those prods He sends my way. 


How about you? Have you followed a God prompt and been able to bless someone? Or have you ever missed an opportunity you regretted?


Jodie Wolfe loves writing stories about feisty heroines and strong, godly heroes. The power of story to influence lives and change hearts is what motivates her to weave tales that tell of the Savior’s faithfulness. Jodie writes for Home School Enrichment magazine and had devotions featured on Christian Devotions. Her first novella, Hearts Tightly Knit will debut on May 2nd. You can find her at her Website or on Facebook.