I don't know what's going on in your life this week, but this has been a hard one for me! I can't remember when I've had such a hard week. God is there though in the midst of it all.
Sometimes, I think we can get so caught up in our own personal suffering that it's hard to see Him, but He's there. Sometimes, our emotions cause us to hurt so deeply that we can't see past what we feel. It's easy to call out to God and even though healing comes, sometimes it takes a while for us to actually feel it. We sometimes have to work it through in our minds. Sometimes, it's a while before we know everything is going to be okay.
I've never seen so many good people suffer. I have friends who are going through battles that touch me deeply. One in particular needs our prayers with a job-related issue. Please call out to God. He knows her name and her needs. A friend of my sister is facing surgery and she has no insurance. She's a wonderful Christian person. Please remember her.
This song by Chris August says it all. God is in the center of it all. No matter what you're going through, He knows.
In the dark, in the light, in the good, in the hurt, in the places I hide. When I rise, when I fall, you'll be there through it all. In the start, the end, in the center of it...
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Sunday, April 26, 2015
GOD OF COMFORT
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV
These verses from Second Corinthians have become real to me over the years. As a young wife I wanted children, and when my husband and I decided to try to start our family, I was glad. But, that gladness soon turned to despair and even depression when I learned about my infertility issues.
Every month I didn’t receive a positive pregnancy test, I sank lower into bitterness. My friends and family would announce their happy news of expecting, but I would run to a corner to lash out in angry tears.
At a low point, I began to realize that no matter the struggle, God loved me and truly was the God of compassion. The first verse above says that he comforts us in all of our troubles. I often forgot that fact and sank into my pit again.
The biggest lesson for me to grasp was that I am not in control and my timing isn’t God’s timing. Do I ever truly cling to these truths? Probably not, though I should from experience.
Through several painful tests and interventions, I finally did conceive and have a daughter. However, some of the same bitterness returned when I tried to conceive again and failed. At this time I stepped back and asked myself, “Why are you trying to play God again?”
Other women struggling with infertility started coming into my sphere of influence. This is also the same time I discovered the Second Corinthians passage, knowing what God was calling me to do. He had comforted me, now my job was to in turn comfort these other women. Who else could truly understand their plight like another sister who had been there?
About a year ago, God led me to five other women who were ready to share their infertility struggles in hopes of helping other women. I joined them and what came from those stories was a devotional book called A Walk in the Valley. I am so excited to share this resource with women in this infertility dilemma.
I was honest with my co-authors when I said toward the end of our writing and editing that I wished I could have had a resource such as this one when I was going through my infertility struggle. The devotional contains all of our stories – the good, the bad, and the ugly. We share scripture and even questions to ponder and write about at the end of each entry.
If you or someone you love is going through an infertility fight, please check out this resource. Know that we, the authors, are passing on the comfort our Heavenly Father gave to us that it might overflow to you through Christ.
Paula is a pastor’s wife, mom to a college student, author, acquiring editor, and speaker. No matter the hat she wears, she strives to honor God’s plan even if it means going out on a limb and leaving comfort zones. Reviewers have characterized her writing as “thundering with emotion.” Her book, Be The Blessing, won the 2014 Selah Award in the novella category. Paula enjoys reading and reviewing Christian fiction, writing Christian romance and devotionals, and helping other authors realize their dream of publication.
You can follow Paula at www.facebook.com/pages/Paula-Mowery/175869562589187 . Learn more about Paula at her blog at www.paulamowery.blogspot.com or enjoy her monthly columns on www.christianonlinemagazine.com.
Everyone's journey through infertility is different. Even women who have the same physical problems will have different courses of treatment, different responses, and different emotional ups and downs as they walk this path. But we also have so much in common: the hurt, anger, frustration, pain, sorrow, hope and joy that we have experienced along the way. We are women who have experienced infertility. Some of us have gone on to conceive, others have adopted, and others remain childless. All of us have found peace in the loving arms of our Father God at the end of our journey. We want to share our experiences and thoughts with you. It is our hope and prayer that you'll be encouraged. This devotional workbook starts with how each woman discovered her infertility, then explores the diagnostic testing pursued, how they processed the official diagnosis, what decisions had to be explored regarding treatment, their experiences during infertility treatment (including pregnancy, miscarriage, and childbirth), and finishes with their experiences in remaining childless, adoption, foster care, child sponsorship, and the emotional healing regardless of the outcome of their infertility journey. Each devotional has a Scripture focus and questions for thought and discussion.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
We're happy to have June Foster with us today talking about her book Ryan's Father.
Hope and Help for Homosexuals Who Would Like to Find Freedom From the Lifestyle
Several years ago, the Lord laid on my mind a story in which a Christian young man experiencing same sex attraction desires with all his heart to break free of the lifestyle. Writing the story, Ryan's Father, was a challenge but also a blessing. Now, two years later, I ask myself. Was the story based in reality? Could others like Ryan actually find freedom, or was my story merely wishful thinking?
As I was praying for homosexual Christian believers recently, several truths from the Bible made impact with my spirit.
A person desiring freedom must first ask himself, "Am I a Christian? Have I trusted Jesus to save me from this world order and have I asked Him into my life as Savior?" Unless a person has the power of God in his life, there is no hope.
The next step is to come to terms with the fact that homosexuality is a sin. Romans 1:26-27 says "God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion." Leviticus 18:22 is plain. "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman. That is detestable." There are many other scriptures in the Bible. Do a Google search to see them all. Though many try to twist the scriptures, the message is plain. God doesn't excuse homosexuality. It is against His holy will.
But the book of Romans brings good news. Romans 6:6 says "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin." When a person becomes born again, they are a new creature in Christ. Our old self is dead and crucified with Christ. We are no longer slaves of sin. That means that a homosexual is free and not compelled to participate in the behavior.
That's easy to say, but how do we do this, especially when confronted with temptation? If a person is an alcoholic, it would be unwise to hang out in bars. Or if someone suffers from gluttony, he wouldn't want to frequent bakeries or ice cream shops. Turn away from the places and people that evoke the desire to sin. Remove yourself from homosexual friends, gay bars, and literature that says it's okay to practice homosexuality. You've made up your mind to be set free, so walk away.
In the place of these things, participate in church activities, go on mission's trip, join a prayer group, serve at a homeless shelter. Ask God to show you how best to serve Him.
The bottom line is not whether you are a homosexual or a heterosexual. The question is how deep is your relationship with God. How much of yourself have you handed over to the Lord? Settle these issues first. Give yourself to Him one hundred percent. Don't hold anything from Him. Seek Him first and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Maybe you've done all these things and the desires are still there, no matter how hard you try. Well, there's the problem. Stop trying. Those deeply set feelings are not going to let go easily. You can't change by trying hard. You'll only become discouraged and exhausted. So instead of striving to change your thinking, throw yourself on God's mercy and tell Him you can't do this. If He wants your thinking to change, He'll have to do it for you. And remind Him that what you seek is in line with His stated will in the Bible.
Isaiah 40: 30-31 brings us an amazing promise. "Even youths grown tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." When you completely give your life over to the Lord and trust Him, He is faithful to His promises.
Remember what His word says in Ephesians 3: 20-21. "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever."
Ask the Holy Spirit to control your mind. Don't become discouraged when you don't see changes right away. Remember: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake. I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, the I am strong." 11 Corinthians 12: 9-10.
So, the answers to my questions are, yes, the message found in the fictional story Ryan's Father is grounded in reality. The principles in my story are valid today. Do you trust the Creator of all the heavens and the earth? God has a glorious future for you. Don't settle for a lie.
Sunday, April 19, 2015
God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart will be released for free at my Love Truth blog through installments over a seven month period on March 16, 2015.
I'll post three times per week on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays. There are three parts to each chapter, the devotions, My Mother Memories, and a journal page for the reader.
Until the book comes out in print you could journal on your own, using the suggested headings as shown below:
* ~Your Mother Memories~
* †~Your Prayer of Praise~
* †~A Scripture of Encouragement~
On March 16, 2015, it will be eleven years since my son left his family and friends with our grief, questions, and the memories of him.
When our children die, we want their lives to have mattered. We long for the world to know they were here.
God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart is a devotional of two hundred and nineteen pages, 30,000 words, and is intended for mothers who've lost children to suicide. This book is a friendly, approachable, inviting book that helps mothers feel welcome and at ease to allow them a peaceful time to reflect on their loss and the child they miss. Each chapter has three sections. The devotional begins with Scripture and where the author tells the story of her loss and then ends in a prayer. The second part is of the author's anecdotes and memories of her son. They are short and sweet, with a dramatic style rather than a how-to. The author reenacts moments in her child's life and recalls how she felt to see the different stages of growth and challenges he faced in life. The concluding part to each chapter is a journal page for the readers to write their memories of their child. It allows them space for both memories and grieving, a prayer of praise, and a Scripture of encouragement.
When a mother has lost a child, there are times when it's hard to mingle with other people. Each God's Mercies after Suicide chapter can be read and journaled in within the privacy of a mother's home, giving her a bit of hope and rest for another day. The book is distinctive in that it combines coping with the pain of loss while encouraging mothers to search for their own blessings. The book reaches out from its pages and wraps mothers in the warmth and love of their heavenly Father.
It has been stated by sufferers of loss to suicide that the topic of suicide is taboo, and that the survivors feel they've been isolated from the normal hum of life. In truth, the ones left behind after the suicide do have a valid point.
Mothers of loss from suicide face separate concerns that are not taught nor thought about when they become parents. No one wants to consider that they'll give birth to a child who could die by suicide. The mothers who endure this type of pain need a resource that considers their exclusive struggles and offers honest help from one mother to another not in a step-by-step format but in story form, which draws the reader into a world they may know all too well.
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth,
do you not perceive it?
I had a dream. I dreamed the nightmare never happened. Our son Joshua never passed on to the hereafter. He married and had children. Then I woke, and knew the dream was only that, a dream. We live with our reality.
I've written these devotions for those of you who have shared the deep heartache of a child's suicide. Through my writing, I believe God wants me to share from my heart to yours, by encouraging you and giving you ways to cope. You can have hope and peace after a suicide. God has helped me and He wants to help you. The loss is horrific, but God is faithful. He brought me through this dark time, and He wants to do the same for you.
A yearning to write this story came five years into my journey of loss. I sensed a dawn of courage within myself, but I haven't come this far in a blink, nor on my own. Although I knew I'd lose my nerve, only to gain it back time and again before I completed my story, I also knew I'd have the help from Lord God, and the folks He sends my way.
Am I full of courage? Yes! Yes, I shout, with God's hand upon me.
God, when I falter, I pray You will renew my strength. In Jesus's name. Amen.
Jean Williams Bio
Jean Ann Williams lives in Southern Oregon with her husband Jim. Although one of their children has passed on to the Great Beyond, their two remaining children have blessed them with thirteen grandchildren, their Baker's Dozen. To learn more about Jean Ann Williams visit her on Twitter, and her blogs Love Truth and Jean Ann Williams: Author.
For additional information, please click on Jean's blog Love Truth, where snippets of the book are posted three times per week.
Jean has a Facebook account under her name. You can click on her links for Twitter and Writer Jean Williams blog.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
A sense of doom, like a dark shadow, covered me and pressed my shoulders down. My hands shook and my breath labored. A tightness and pain ran across my chest and banded my arm. That morning on the way to work I felt euphoric, which should have been my first sign that something was wrong.
It was Grandparent's Day at the elementary school where I worked. Despite dizziness, I forced a smile and checked out books as grandmas and grandpas visited the library with their grandchildren. My co-worker, Tonda, sensed I was in distress. She called the assistant principal. For fear my symptoms were a heart attack, he had the school nurse take me to my doctor.
After an EKG and blood tests, the doctor found my heart was fine but my brain receptors didn't use a chemical called serotonin properly. I was officially diagnosed with a panic-anxiety disorder caused by a chemical imbalance.
I'd been anxious most of my life and experienced many less intense panic attacks. I'd pushed through symptoms by pure will-power or avoiding certain situations. Too many times I heard from well-meaning Christians that I needed to get over my issues. God could heal me if I just prayed harder. Trust me, I prayed daily. People blamed PMS, being a woman, or told me it was all in my head. (Well, it was, but not that way.)
Even though my diagnosis came later in life, God answered my constant prayers. He provided me with the people who could help. The assistant principal had watched a TV show about women and heart attacks. If he hadn't, he wouldn't have been as insistent that I go to the doctor. The school nurse was my daughter's friend, and shewanted to help. My co-worker was a good friend who watched out for me. My doctorwas a blessing. She understood the physiological aspects of what I needed. My husband's been super supportive as have my children.
With medication, continued prayer, and trust in God my panic attacks are doable. I haven't had a major one for several years. If I do experience anxiety, I see it as a warning sign to slow down. I'm much more calm which I attribute to the faith that's grown from my relationship with Jesus in combination with my meds. Prayer and faith led to answers. I praise God each time I share my story, and pray that I can help someone else.
Here's what I learned about panic and anxiety:
* Anxiety is real
* Panic attacks have physical symptoms that can debilitate
* Anxiety and panic attacks can be hereditary
* Physiological factors should be figured in to a diagnosis
* Medication may be needed to keep the chemicals balanced
* There's no shame in seeking medical help
* God answers prayer in unexpected ways
May God hear our prayers for help and drench us with his love and grace.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
We're happy to have Johnnie Alexander with us today sharing a devotional and talking about her book Where Treasure Hides. She's been gracious enough to provide a link for those of you who'd like to read the first chapter. Purchase links are at the bottom, also. I love the cover. It's gorgeous! So WWII!
K. Dawn here....Thanks for the, devotional, Johnnie! And now a little info about Johnnie's book, Where Treasure Hides.
Romans 2:7 reads: “to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life” (ESV).
It’d been one of those weeks—tiring, stressful, too much to do in too few hours. So I wasn’t too excited when the day’s reading, according to the YouVersion Bible plan I’m using, was Romans 2.
A chapter I’ve read dozens if not hundreds of times before.
But it’s when we least expect it and most need it that God’s familiar Word pops with something new. It only took a moment for my heart to respond to a very short phrase in verse 7: patience in well-doing.
Initial Response: Frustration
I’m not doing a lot for God’s kingdom these days. Guilt presses against my shoulders because I’m not teaching a Sunday School class or feeding the homeless or planning a missions trip or filling my calendar with a myriad of activities that will show the world what a committed, devoted, devout Christian I am.
Because filling our calendars is what we do.
At least it’s what I did in earlier seasons of my life.
And Then: Curiosity
Patience in doing well.
My heart responded to that phrase for a reason, so I did what I often do at such times.
I booted up my laptop and paid a visit to the Blue Letter Bible website. Here’s what I found:
The Greek word, hypomonē, translated patience, can mean “the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose” despite trials and sufferings.
Two Greek words form our English well-doing. The first, agathos, means excellent and upright. The second, ergon, means employment, undertaking, the idea of working.
The phrase patience in doing well could be translated as deliberately perform tasks with excellence.
So what is my deliberate purpose? What are the tasks I should be performing with excellence?
After studying the phrase, I wrote three things in my journal, and none of them have anything to do with my local church.
The list consists of three things God has given me to do in this season of my life—days when I’m living far away from home, friends, and my children. My deliberate purpose is to:
* care for my mom;
* write my next novel; and
* fulfill obligations I’ve made.
* write my next novel; and
* fulfill obligations I’ve made.
In the rest of Romans 2:7, God promises to reward our steadfast efforts to perform our deliberate purposes with excellence.
That purpose may be to teach a Sunday School class, feed the homeless, go on a mission trip, or even to fill our calendar with a myriad of activities. Or our purpose may be more confined to very particular needs and tasks.
Please don’t misread my heart. Church activities are vitally important, and at one time, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and Bible studies were a major part of my life. Right now, though, I’m still finding my place in a new community. Perhaps once I do, my calendar will fill up again.
And Now: Your Turn
Your deliberate purpose will be different than mine. You may be involved in an exciting range of activities, or perhaps you, too, are in a quieter season. If you’d like to share, please do.
My prayer is that we are steadfast in performing our purposes with excellence so that God is given the honor and the glory.
(Note: The Greek terms and definitions can be found at http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G18&t=KJV.)
Artist Alison Schuyler spends her time working in her family’s renowned art gallery, determined to avoid the curse that has followed the Schuyler clan from the Netherlands to America and back again. She’s certain that true love will only lead to tragedy—that is, until a chance meeting at Waterloo station brings Ian Devlin into her life.
Drawn to the bold and compassionate British Army captain, Alison begins to question her fear of love as World War II breaks out, separating the two and drawing each into their own battles. While Ian fights for freedom on the battlefield, Alison works with the Dutch Underground to find a safe haven for Jewish children and priceless pieces of art alike. But safety is a luxury war does not allow.
As time, war, and human will struggle to keep them apart, will Alison and Ian have the faith to fight for their love, or is it their fate to be separated forever?
Link to Chapter One:
Where Treasure Hides is currently available as an ebook. The print edition releases August 2015.
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/where-treasure-hides-johnnie-alexander-donley/1113498024?ean=9781414380995
Christian Book Distributors (ChristianBook.com): http://www.christianbook.com/where-treasure-hides-ebook/johnnie-donley/9781414380995/pd/34191EB?product_redirect=1&Ntt=34191EB&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
I took my 13 year old niece to see the movie, "Do You Believe?" earlier in the week. I'm not a huge fan of watching movies in the theater because I like to wait on movies to be released on DVD so I can get comfy in home in my PJs with a bowl of popcorn and a glass of Ginger Ale. I've had a change in the way I think about Christian-based movies lately and that is...if we don't support them, they're going to be gone. I'll gladly spend my money to support Christian-based movies because I want the production companies that make them to remain in business to they'll continue to give us good, clean faith-based films.
If you choose to watch "Do You Believe?" in the theater, take your tissues! We cried though about a third of the movie. The message is tremendous. If you have an unsaved family member or friend, ask them to if they'd like to go watch a movie with you. I can see this movie changing lives. I absolutely loved it and will buy it when it comes out on DVD and watch it again.
A dozen different souls - all moving in different directions, all longing for something more. As their lives unexpectedly intersect, they each are about to discover there is power in the Cross of Christ - even if they don't believe it. Yet.
When a local pastor is shaken to the core by the visible faith of an old street-corner preacher, he is reminded that true belief always requires action. His response ignites a faith-fueled journey that powerfully impacts everyone it touches in ways that only God could orchestrate.
Have you seen it? Did you like it? Leave me a comment below and let me know what you thought. Click below to watch the movie trailer.