I’m Listening!

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Today, as usual, I opened God’s word and thoughtfully and prayerfully read. Many times, God gives me something specifically for me but not always. I suspect when He does not, it’s because I’m acting routinely. Today was not routine!

During this COVID-19 crisis, while people are sick, quarantined, and unemployed, as I read, I considered how blessed I am for I am none of those things. I prayed and thanked God for my many gifts and remembered every good gift is from above. I am not rich by any means and do not have all that I want, but I have a home, food, family, friends, and all that I need. I thought about countries where people live in shacks, starve, and lack proper clothing and medical attention. I asked God, why me? Why was I born here and not there? Should I only be THANKFUL that God put me here instead of there? Just count my lucky stars, as some would say?

That’s when I heard it—the word from Him that was meant for me. Luke 12:48b “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” KJV That verse is talking about being a faithful and wise steward of what God has given you. He has blessed me abundantly and expects much from me. Please Lord, show me how I can use what you have given me according to your will. Several places in scripture, Jesus instructs people to sell all they have, give it to the poor, and follow Him. He tells us we are to lay up for ourselves heavenly treasures.

People in our world are hurting. I am not a young person, and the older I become, I realize my time for making a difference is limited. I have trusted Jesus as my Savior and have the promise of eternal life, but I want to share Him with everyone. While I’m instructed to do that, I’m also told to do even more. There is a song that my daughter use to sing: “Don’t tell them Jesus loves them till you’re ready to love them too, till your heart breaks from their sorrow and the pain they’re going through.” If I cannot look at the plight of my fellow man and be moved to compassion, what good am I? I often pray for God to break my heart for what breaks His, but am I really ready for that? Am I ready to share all that I have with those that need it? I should be.

Sometimes I think there are so many needs that my meager sustenance couldn’t possibly make a difference. Truth is—every little bit counts. I must show the love of God to those He places in my path. I must not miss opportunities to give. Thank you, God, for entrusting me with what I have. Help me to use it for your honor and glory. Amen.

Our Humble Home

Don’t miss the present at the end of the story.

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The year was 1960 and I was only six-years-old. My family had left Fort Worth, Texas, destitute. Dad needed work and we moved to a small town in the Missouri Ozarks where my grandparents lived.  Dad, Mom, Larry, and I settled into a little house in town. They called it a Cracker Jack box. It was so small that Larry and I, didn’t have a bedroom, but we didn’t mind. We slept on pallets in the living room. Dad drove a truck and delivered car batteries all over southern Missouri.

I noticed Mom didn’t cook Dad’s favorite for dinner anymore. Now, she mostly served yummy beans and cornbread or delicious chicken and dumplings. Sometimes, the electricity wouldn’t work and she cooked on the gas stove by candlelight until Dad paid the bill.

I saw snow for the first time right before Christmas. It transformed the countryside from a gloomy, gray-brown into a bright, hopeful white as it covered the ground and frosted the trees and rooftops. With gloves and galoshes, Larry and I frolicked in the white powder, rolling and forming a snowman complete with buttons, which Mom gave us, and an old hat of Grandpa’s.

My older brother, Buck, visited for the holidays. We hadn’t seen Buck since before he got married. When he drove his two-tone ‘56 Pontiac into the driveway on Christmas Eve, the merriment started. He ran around the car to open the door for Virginia, his new wife. She was beautiful, tall and slender with green eyes and light brown hair. He grinned from ear to ear as he hugged Mother.

“Hi, Mommy,” he laughed teasingly with Buck’s usual mischievous twinkle in his eyes. He stood straight and proud as he introduced Virginia.

That evening as Daddy played the guitar, Buck and Larry joined him with their harmonicas. We all sang songs and carols and laughed. It felt good. Even though our house was small, we didn’t care. Mom and Dad pulled the mattress off their bed. Buck and Virginia slept on the mattress, Dad and Mom on the box springs. Larry and I fell asleep on Christmas Eve in front of the Christmas tree. Shiny glass ornaments, silver tinsel, and brightly-colored lights made it the most beautiful tree ever.

I loved Christmas; even if we didn’t get many presents, it was still my favorite time of all. Mom made Christmas fun, but I think Dad enjoyed it more than any of the other adults. Larry and I had hung our stockings above the fireplace, but when we awoke, they had multiplied. Stockings hung there for all of us, regardless of age, filled with our favorite things: fruit, candy, and other little trinkets.

Laughter filled our tiny home as we gathered around our kitchen table for Christmas dinner. Smiles lit up the faces around me and I realized the God-given joy of Christmas and family.

(A story from my childhood as told in All That Matters, published by W&B Publishers)

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:11-14 KJV

CLICK ON PRESENT BELOW TO GET THE FIRST 2 CHAPTERS OF MY NEW BOOK

“Melissa’s Fate”

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Putting things into perspective

Wishing each of you a Happy Thanksgiving! There is so much to be thankful for, yet much of it we take for granted. I am guilty of this even though I strive hard not to be. “I will go about Your altar, O Lord, that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Your wondrous works.” Psalms 26:6-7 NKJV

It has truly been a wondrous year. Rick and I received the gift of a trip to Israel, a strange and mysterious land; mysterious in that it looks desolate, yet it flows with abundance. We made many new friends within our tour group and were deeply touched by the love we all felt for each other. For the first part of our trip, our hotel was on the Sea of Galilee, and we reveled in the sights of Jesus’ ministry. We rejoiced in the beauty of the land where he fed the multitudes, delivered the sermon on the mount, cooked for His disciples, and performed many miracles. For the disciples, it was probably their happy place as it became that for us. We swam daily in the Sea of Galilee.

Then we went to Jerusalem and along the way, we began to feel fatigued. We arrived on Yom Kippur, a Jewish Holy Day, signifying the day of atonement. On that day, we had to walk because our driver wasn’t allowed to work. We walked eight miles, a lot for these senior bodies, uphill all the way! We walked to Old Jerusalem, saw where Stephen was stoned, the pools of Bethesda, and the Via Dolorosa, the narrow road believed to have been taken by Jesus through Jerusalem on his way to Calvary. My back cried out in pain, my feet hurt, my head ached, and Rick experienced pain shooting out from his knee. In my mind, I was complaining big time and had developed a strong dislike of my tour guide! And then the light-bulb moment in my brain – whatever I felt was nothing compare to what Jesus felt. We woke up each morning wondering how hard sightseeing would be that day. We visited the Tower of David, the Temple Mount, the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane.

As awesome as seeing these sights were, Jerusalem had somehow become the city of dread. Then I realized the lamb of God, the perfect lamb, the one that was slain for me; the one of which the Bible says “This man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right of God”—it was the city of dread for Him, too. He had prayed and asked God to remove this cup, but added not my will but thine be done. He laid down His life that I might live. Jerusalem embodied the ugliness of man’s sin and the awful cost of redemption, the wailing wall and the atonement we desperately need.

I could see Jerusalem for its past, the crucifixion of Jesus and the persecution of Christians, yet it is the city of resurrection and will become a new and glorious city; Mount Zion, the city of thy Great King.

 

 

An Embarrassing Tale!

Melissa's Fate Final Cover

Melissa’s Fate, my new romantic fiction novel, is now available! I wanted to reveal a little known fact with you. The story Beth shares during the interview with Joan on page two is partially true. I wrote Melissa’s Fate twenty-five years ago. When I queried agents (by actual mail), I assumed they would all be thrilled to represent a book from a new “up and coming” author such as myself! You can imagine my chagrin as I received one rejection letter after another.

I belonged to a writer’s group, and one of our published authors was represented by an agent from the William Morris Agency in New York. This agent visited our group, affording me the chance of a lifetime; an opportunity to pitch Melissa’s Fate to him in person. I was so nervous I couldn’t complete a coherent sentence. Lucky for me, he had read the first ten pages and already knew he was going to ask for the full manuscript. I was elated and wasted no time sending the large envelope to his office along with an SASE; self-addressed, stamped, envelope.

I waited impatiently. One month turned into several without a word. Meanwhile, I continued to receive rejection letters from other agents I had queried and was becoming totally discouraged. As a last resort, I asked the published author if he knew anything about the status of my book. His response was, “Oh yeah, he can’t sell it. Children are taboo in romance.” My heart sank. I was devastated. And the agent didn’t even contact me! He should have rejected my work himself.

Fast forward twenty years – I’ve had one biography/memoir book published and a second one waiting so I’m looking for family pictures to include with it. My husband is searching boxes in our closet when he says, “Honey did you know this box has manuscripts in it?”

“Probably,” I answer. “I have manuscripts everywhere!”

“No. These are from New York and San Francisco and they’re not open.”

My ears perk up and a full-fledged mystery unfolds. I reach for the first large envelope. The return address is from the William Morris Agency in New York City and the postmark is from twenty years ago. I rip it open and, upon first glance, believe he must have hated it because there are notes all the way through it. Not so. This agent from the most prestigious literary agency in the country had line- edited my book, mailing it to me so I could make the changes and send it back. He’d attached notes like “good plot twist” and “really liked the ending.” One of his notes said, “probably not a blockbuster but a really good love story.” He even sent a list of what publishers he planned on querying.

Now, I don’t know why I never saw the envelopes before now. Both contained Melissa’s Fate and both agencies were interested. For some reason, God didn’t want it published then, and His timing is perfect.

Thanks to Cynthia Hickey and Forget Me Not Romances, an imprint of Winged Publications, and Stephanie Hansen of Metamorphosis Literary Agency, publication of Melissa’s Fate is finally a reality. I hope you will pick it up and read it, and I sincerely hope you’ll be blessed by having read it.

Struggles; Are They Troubles or Blessings?

I’ll admit sometimes my patience wanes, and it feels like God has forgotten me! Are you struggling? Do you feel like you’re missing God’s blessings? Today, while reading in Matthew chapter 5, I realized there are characteristics defining “The Blessed.” I will be blessed if I mourn and am meek; if I desire Godly principles and extend mercy; if my heart is pure and not deceitful and I don’t promote strife but am a peacemaker. So, I thought about how these things are reflected in my life.

Blessed am I if I mourn. It’s okay for my heart to break because it means I have loved. If I grieve over a death or if I mourn as a result of sin, either in my own life or the lives of those around me, then, I can receive God’s blessing.

It’s not always easy to be meek, but it is a fruit of the Spirit. The things I say and do have power to affect others. If someone cuts in front of me in line, I don’t want to do what my pre-k grandson did, which was stab him with his pencil! Instead, I should extend to them the grace of being first. Sometimes, I am so caught up in my own problems, I forget to consider others before myself. Everyone has problems. I’m not the only one.

What is it that motivates me? What do I hunger for? Is it my own selfish desires, like an eagerness to advance my finances? Or to have things that make me feel good? Is it me, me, I, I? “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” says the Word of Truth. I should hunger after righteousness in my own life and in the world around me. God and His will must be first above my other thoughts or desires.

I believe I am merciful when it really counts. But, am I? When someone does me wrong, am I willing to forgive and extend mercy? Maybe that person hasn’t admitted they’re wrong. Should I forgive anyway? Absolutely! I hope everyone that I have wronged has forgiven me anyway. All of humanity is fraught with frailties. We all make mistakes, sometimes while thinking we’re doing the right thing! Remember, Jesus prayed for those who crucified Him.

Matters of the heart are indeed complex. What exactly is meant by a pure heart? I believe it has to do with following Jesus, a daily walk of endeavoring to follow His teachings. But this is where it gets tricky, in walking that narrow path, I can become prideful, almost pharisaical. If I’m not careful, my heart becomes deceitful as I fool myself and those around me. May my heart always reflect truth.

I have known people who love to stir up strife. If I am a peacemaker, I will not be among them. I will be the one who infuses light, love, and mercy into such situations.

Blessings come in all shapes and sizes. Some are easily recognizable and others are disguised. For example: Michelle Qureshi, the widow of the late Nabeel Qureshi author of Seeking Allah; Finding Jesus, shared a post about placing their house on the market and not having many showings. Instead of seeing that as discouraging, she refers to it as “a personal gift from an all-knowing God” even though she has already purchased a smaller home!

Last and not least, if I am mocked or suffer because I love the Savior, then I am blessed beyond measure. I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my Savior. I don’t believe I’ve been persecuted for His name sake, but if that time comes, I pray that I will stay the course for great will be my reward.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

 

Waiting Patiently?

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The story of Melissa’s Fate remains in limbo as “my baby” rests in the publishing world’s hands, awaiting their decision. Patience is not my strong suit and it’s been over a year. I know, “those who wait upon the Lord…”, but I believe God may be going overboard in teaching me this virtue! He planted this story idea in my head over twenty-five years ago. I wrote it within a few short months and after many rejections, it was buried in a box in my closet for twenty years!

I’m aware He may have had His purpose in resurrecting it at this appointed time. It’s packed with lessons for this day and age. A life can be changed with a fresh look at abortion, the affects of sexual permissiveness, lying, deception, materialism, and the role of faith in love.

Beth, a young woman whose father’s poor health preempted her college plans and compelled her to join the labor force in New York City, unwittingly falls in love with a man who has deceived her about his identity. She finds herself pregnant at the same time she learns he’s the president of the company where she works and he has plans to marry another. Feeling betrayed and alone, she flees without telling him she’s pregnant. Not once does she consider abortion, but after being raised by two devoted, loving parents herself, she desires for her child to know that same environment—a home with a mother and a father. Wouldn’t it be best for all if she placed her baby for adoption and kept the whole affair a secret from those she loved?

Phillip Drake ceases all efforts to locate the woman who stole his heart when he learns she left of her own volition. Unlike others he’d known, she wasn’t motivated by money and pretention—a breath of fresh air in his driven world. What did he do wrong? He didn’t even have the chance to tell her who he really is. Now, he must forget her; she’s given him no other choice. Perhaps he should marry the beautiful socialite, Victoria, as his father and the gossip columnists expect.

After eighteen months, through a series of events, Beth discovers her baby’s location and realizes she’s made an awful mistake. Her daughter, Melissa, may be in danger. When her efforts to save her little girl fail, she must return to New York and recruit Phil’s help.

Just when Phil decides to move on with his life, Beth reappears with shocking news that sets his world spinning. He will never forgive her, but he’ll do anything to save the little girl he never knew. Phil is a man accustomed to wealth and privilege, controlling those around him and the order of his life. Ever since Beth’s return, he is thrust into situations beyond his control and he doesn’t like it. Still, he must marry her and fight together for custody. He is completely helpless as the whole of Melissa’s fate rests in the hands of the judge.

Please tell me what you think. Although, my first two books published are biography/memoir, this is “my baby,” the first book I ever wrote, a work of fiction. Is it a story line worthy of publication? If you think so, should publishers stop stalling on it? It did win first place in Ozarks Writers League’s unpublished manuscript category! For months, I’ve waited patiently to announce its home. Oh, the woes of being a writer. All in God’s good timing, I suppose. I remain trusting in Him.

Born to Die

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Born To Die

(The following is short, sweet, and contains zero words from me! 100% God’s Word. Merry Christmas)

Fear not for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto us is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. For, all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. The wages for sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God through Him. For God so loved the world that He GAVE his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (For) God commended his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. For with the heart, man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made. For whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen