Saturday, January 25, 2014

Oasis or Rush Hour?

And Moses was content to dwell with the man; and he gave Moses, Zipporah his daughter. Ex. 2:21

Now, Moses kept the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the backside of the desert ... Ex. 3:1

Born in subjection to the pharaoh of Egypt, Moses became a prince and a son to the ruler. Life filled with games and responsibilities. His anger over injustice drove him to kill a man and flee to the desert where no one could find him. After the burden of ruling and the fear of being caught, Jethro's home must have seemed like an oasis. Moses cared for sheep and provided for a wife and children. No one required anything else from him. Here he found rest.

Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. Ex. 3:10

For forty years, Moses had lived in anonymity. His days plodded along with only sheep and his family knowing where he was or who he was. Now, God gave Moses a cause, a job, a ministry. For Moses, now was rush hour in Los Angeles, California. No longer should he linger in the background. Now was the time to act.


This summer, my husband and I traveled to Yellowstone with our travel trailer and went through phases in our trip. While we were in the park, each day overflowed with activity. Tired from traveling  to the park and then all the activities while we were there, we left the park early without a reservation for our next stop.

KOA is built on a creek coming from Bear Lake
Montpelier had walking trails










What an oasis Montpelier, Idaho represented to us when we pulled through that entrance to a newly-renovated KOA campground and found a beautiful spot to camp and recuperate
I rested and put Charles to cooking
This campground sat in the valley surrounded by beautiful mountains. We enjoyed the rest time, but then was eager to continue our trip.

Just like trips, life is a roller coaster with ups and downs. Peaks and valleys.. Oasis and rush hours.

What phase are you in now? Just wait, and it will change.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Beauty for Ashes by Lillian Duncan

I enjoy reading Lillian Duncan's two blogs. I find her writing Christ-like and strong. Online friends like her are a treasure to a writer. I asked her to post one of her wonderful devotional thoughts on my blog. I also wanted to introduce you to her and her new book. First, the devotion.
.
BEAUTY FOR ASHES

Isaiah 61: 3

…and provide for those who grieve in Zion to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

Beauty for ashes! 

This phrase comes up several times in my soon-to be released book, BETRAYED. In fact, I would even go out on a limb and say it’s one of the themes of the story. It’s not a secret so I can tell you, my main characters—Maria and her daughter—are in the witness protection program because Maria was betrayed by her husband in the most horrible of ways. (you’ll have to read the story to find out the details!)

Betrayals hurt! I know—I’ve lived through a few. They were ugly and painful and nothing I would ever want to live through again. Unfortunately, even years later a word, a picture, a smell, or a song can trigger the memory and for a moment the pain still crashes in on me.

That’s when I remind myself of this verse.  Beauty for ashes.  

In fact, if you choose to let them, betrayals can ruin your life.  If you choose to let them, but you don’t have to make that choice. You can choose to understand when someone betrays you that is about their character, not you and your worthiness as a person.

Or you can get stuck in the past!  Stay angry and bitter and pitiful!  Not a fun place to visit, let alone live there!  Go ahead, feel the pain and the anger and all those other powerful negative emotions, but then let God heal you.

He will!

In my own life, God definitely kept his promise of beauty for ashes. He has given me the desires of my heart. I now have a godly, loving husband and I’m a published writer. God restored my life and gave me beauty for ashes.

 He will do the same for you.

That's one of my favorite Scripture verses. Thanks for bringing that thought to life in your book.

 Tell us more about your new book BETRAYED.


Witness Protection Program claims they can keep anyone safe if only they follow the rules so Maria follows the rules--every rule. She's given up everything--her friends, her family, her past, even her name to ensure her daughter has a future.

Reborn as Veronica Minor in the sleepy little town of Sunberry, Ohio, she struggles to rebuild their life amid the beauty of her flower shop. A life where her daughter can have a happy normal childhood. A life where her daughter will never know that her father was a monster.

When a child disappears, Veronica prays it has nothing to do with her past, but what if she's wrong? Not knowing who to trust, she trusts no one...and that's her first mistake.

Purchase the book on Amazon, at Christian Books, or  PelicanBookGroup.com

Now, let me tell you something about Lillian Duncan.
 
Lillian Duncan…Stories of faith mingled… with murder & mayhem.

Lillian is a multi-published writer who writes the type of books she loves to read—suspense with a touch of romance. Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: www.lillianduncan.net.  She also has a devotional blog at: www.PowerUpWithGod.com  as well as her personal blog, Tiaras & Tennis Shoes at www.lillian-duncan.com


To celebrate the release of BETRAYED, I’m giving away a virtual gift basket at Tiaras & Tennis Shoes at www.lillian-duncan.com. The virtual gift basket includes a copy of my books, SERENITY SPRINGS, OHIO; DARK ALLEYS; and GEESE MATE FOR LIFE.  Along with the books, a $25 Amazon gift card is included plus a few books from some writer friends. To enter the contest, simply hop on over to Tiaras & Tennis Shoes at www.lillian-duncan.com , leave a comment on the post titled CELEBRATION! Winner will be chosen and announced on February 14.

Can't beat that. Go over to Lillian Duncan's site now and enter the contest. I know I'm sure doing that. I've ordered my copy of Betrayed and can't wait to read it.

Thank you, Lillian, for being my guest today.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

CYCLES

I use every wonder cream modern technology devises. Maintaining my weight loss makes me appear younger than I looked twenty years ago. Despite my efforts, my age races ahead and catches me. Every day, I awake with a new pain, a new wrinkle, and less energy.

Life runs through cycles. Each time we transition, we face challenges.

 My childhood friend and I spent many happy days. Since she lived down the street from me, we were together all the time. I could never have imagined life without Janis. Then, we entered junior high. She gained bad habits that my parents didn't like, and I was no longer allowed to associate with her.  My heart broke. Our ways parted. I pushed aside my timidity and made new friends, even a boyfriend, so thus, I moved into the teen years. God went with me.

My fiancĂ© returned from a navy tour in Japan, and we married. He moved me several states away from family and friends. My sweetheart went on with his work leaving me alone and unhappy. Fights erupted between us. Money was scarce. With the birth of our first child, my overeating compulsion that I thought I left behind back in college, returned with new struggles to face. Still, God blessed us.

My husband's career blossomed. I fluctuated between mom of three daughters with all the PTA, softball games, and girl's church groups. When our finances tightened, I got an extra job for awhile. I attended parties and banquets with my husband as he became more and more well known and successful. During this cycle, my life revolved around my family, my church, and my community. Then, while I was in my late thirties, we moved to another town where I knew no one. God moved with us.

Through my forties and into my fifties, my compulsive overeating devastated me. I reached out for help to psychologists and tried every diet plan or medicine I hadn't tried in my thirties. I worked in the medical field and took part in church projects. God never forsook me, keeping me from the pits of suicide and hell. My health deteriorated. I started a Weight Controllers class at church. God began an emotional healing in me, and I started to lose weight.

The time of retirement brought the next change in the cycle. I searched for God's will for my life. He hadn't intended to heal me without using me, and so my writing career began. Within seven years, My debut novel released. A few months later, my devotion book about healing from compulsive overeating, came out. My life-long dream became reality. God used my weakness to magnify His strength.
Booksigning at Wichita Falls, TX library

Now, a new transition looms. My husband has semi-retired. We long to spend more time in our travel trailer, visiting with our family, and taking life easy. As I told my oldest daughter, I'd like to start acting more retired.

At the same time, my writing is my dream come true.. Each new book especially in a different genre brings more and more speaking engagements, booksignings, and online promotion. This is part of the dream. The challenge to this transition is find a balance. I want to continue to succeed with my writing career at the same time I want to start acting more retired while I still have energy enough to enjoy traveling and hiking.

I don't know yet how this will look, but from the cycles I've already weathered, I know this one thing.

God will go through it with me.

But He knows the way that I take (He has concern for it, appreciates, and pays attention to it). When He has tried me, I shall come forth as refined gold (pure and luminous). Job 25:10 TAB

What cycle in life are you in?
What challenges and struggles is it bringing?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cover Reveal for Beverly Stowe McClure's new book

I'm excited to be one of several this week to show off Beverly Stowe McClure's new cover art. I'm loving it. I've read McClure's young adult Life on Hold and recommend it. In that book, she speaks with a teen voice. I'm thinking this new middle grade book will be more of the same excellent writing. McClure knows how to tell a story meant for young people.
 
A girl.
A dream.
An accident.
A dream shattered.
 
Ten-year-old Kate Taylor dreams of being the star of her basketball team, Angels. When Kate’s tooth is knocked out at one of the games, and her mother, who is also her coach, says she can’t play until the tooth the dentist replants heals, Kate’s dreams are in jeopardy. Add Emily, the new girl at school who claims she’s the best, and Kate faces a challenge to prove that she is the star.
 
Will Kate succeed? Or will Emily ruin Kate’s plans?
 
 And now, to reveal the gorgeous cover.
 
 
Isn't that an exciting cover, so inviting to a reader.
Congratulations, Beverly Stowe McClure
 
Ten-year-old Kate Taylor wants to be the star of her basketball team, Angels, but when her tooth is knocked out at one of the games, her goal is in jeopardy. Even though the dentist replants the tooth, her mother, who is also her coach, refuses to let Kate play unless she can come up with a way to protect the tooth.
 
 With the encouragement of her friends and teammates, Kate tries everything. She asks her sister, Zoe, how her boyfriend, Ray, protects his teeth when playing football. Zoe is clueless. Kate wears her friend Simon’s catcher’s mask to practice, but it’s too big and blocks her view of the goal. Kate stuffs cotton balls in her mouth and thinks she’s swallowed one. Nothing works.
 
 To add to Kate’s problems, Emily, the new girl at River Bend Elementary, is great at basketball. Kate worries Emily will be the star of the team. On top of that, Simon, the school brain, as well as klutz, says he plans to join the Angels, even though boys are not allowed.
 
 In the final game of the season, Kate faces a decision that will not only decide who wins the game, but whether she’s star of the team or not.
 
Publisher: 4RV Publishing
 
 
 
Beverly Stowe McClure is the author of picture books, early readers, middle grade and teen novels. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, both national and North Texas. A fourth generation Texan, she lives in the country with two cats, and a variety of wild critters.
 
 
 
 
Thanks, Beverly, for sharing a peak at the new cover with the followers of this blog. I wish you much success and many blessings from God.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Imagine the Future You by Ada Brownell

    I don't often review books here at Writing with God's Hope blog, but I found a special book for young adults and new adults that I believe is worth recommending.

     My oldest daughter, Julia Clark, once told me that our churches didn't prepare kids for college. After having given her heart to Christ at a young age and then attending church through high school,  she took a course in Western Civilization at college that almost threw her. No one had questioned her about her faith until then. No one had placed alternative roads to life before her. Ada Brownell's latest release, Imagine the Future You does just that--prepares young people for their future.

     Brownell tells the reader what it takes to be a success in business, in marriage, in life. The words read more like fiction, interesting, captivating, unique. The author uses the imagine theme for each section; imagine you falling in love, imagine you as an older adult, imagine you achieving your dreams ...  At the end of the book, Brownell asks questions from each chapter to test your comprehension and application for life.  Part of the book reads like a Christian apologist, giving young people evidence for a belief in God.

     The back of the book lists questions that are answered in this book. Here is a few:
     How harnessing your will can make you a champion.
     How to look and be your best.
     How to avoid traps that jeopardize your future.

     Ms. Brownell knows her stuff and cites her facts in an orderly, understandable fashion. She spent 17 years as a newspaper reporter. Her writing encompasses 275 articles. Her fiction stories show up in 45 different magazines. Her books include Swallowed by Life and Confessions of A Pentecostal.  Her prolific writing and researching gives her access to studies that will convince the most doubtful new adult.

     Purchase this book at:
      http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KJ2C06

Ada Brownell sent me a copy of this book to review. I am most grateful to her.

If you've read this book, leave a comment to let us know. Also, feel free to ask questions about the book. It's a must read for anyone from 15-30.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

THE CHRISTMAS GEESE

     Once there was a man who didn't believe in Jesus, and he didn't hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays like Christmas and Easter. His wife, however, was a believer and raised their children to have faith in God and Jesus.

     One snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived.  She asked him to come, but he refused. "That story is nonsense," he said, "Why would God lower Himself to come to earth as a man?"

     So, she and the children left, and he stayed home.  Awhile later the winds grew stronger, and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat to relax before the fire for the evening. Then, he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then, another thump, He looked out but couldn't see more than a few feet. When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on the window.

      In a field near his house, he saw a flock of wild geese  Apparently, they had gotten caught in the snowstorm and were lost, and a couple of them had flown into his window. They were stranded on the farm with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around his field, blindly and aimlessly.

     The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. His barn would be a great place for them to stay. It was safe and warm, and they could spend the night there and wait out the storm. So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they woud notice the open barn and go inside.

     But, the geese just fluttered around and did not seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean to them. The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them, and they moved further away. He went into the house and came back with some bread, broke it up, and made a trail of breadcrumbs leading into the barn. They still didn't catch on. The man was getting frustrated.

     He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only became more scared and scattered in every direction. Nothing he did got them to go into the barn where they would be safe and warm. "Why don't they follow me," he exclaimed. "Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?"

     He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human. "If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said out loud. Then he had an idea. He went into the barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released his goose. It flew through the flock and straight into the barn. One by one, the wild geese followed it to safety.

      The man stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind, "If only I were a goose, then I could save them." He thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. "Why would God lower Himself to come to earth as a man?" Suddenly, it all made sense. That is exactly what God had done.

     We were like the geese--blind, lost, perishing. God had His Son become like us, so He could show us the way to be saved

     The man realized this was the meaning of Christmas. As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet .  He contemplated that thought. This was why Christ had come. Years of doubt and unbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow and prayed his first prayer. "Thank You, God, for coming in human form to save me from the storm. 

                                                                                                         Author unknown

     A sweet friend of mine sent us a Christmas card with this story enclosed. I had not heard the Christmas geese story, but found it touched my heart. I pondered this example of Christ being the reason for the season. Posting it today is my Christmas gift to those who follow my blog.

     Thank you, all, for stopping by. I appreciate you.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Interview with Singer/Writer Tara Johnson

At the 2012 ACFW conference in Dallas, I sat at a table with a young lady that I immediately fell in love with. She talked of Christ's love and faithfulness and gave me a demo CD of her songs. What a kindness that was. I thanked her but never realized how much that CD would minister through the next year. The title song is "It's a Brand New Day." Talk about encouragement, it's there.

I emailed this lady and asked if I could interview her. She graciously accepted my offer. Help me welcome Tara Johnson to my Writing with God's Hope blog today.


    Tara, when did you know you wanted a career in singing?


   I remember being tucked into my bed at the age of six and daydreaming about what my life would be. I was suddenly struck  with this image: I was looking out from the middle of a well-lit stage, microphone in hand, watching a large crowd listen as I sang. But honestly, as I got older the thought that I could ever be a singer felt ridiculous. For one thing, I didn't think I was that good! I spent high school and the first part of college determined that I wouldn't go into music. As much as I loved it, it didn't provide a very stable income. Instead, I entered the education program...and was miserable. God finally caught my attention and I ended up changing my major to music with emphasis in voice and songwriting. The rest is history!

 
      When did you make your first CD?

   In 2002. It was a custom album a friend of mine and I put together before I signed with Incubator Creative Group.

 

       How many CDs do you have?

   "Sweet Mercy" and a Christmas album entitled "O Holy Night" along with lots of individual singles. I need to get them compiled into a new project! With itunes shifting so much of the way music is sold, it's much more feasible these days to work on individual singles than huge CD projects. I'm guessing that CDs will soon become a thing of the past, another item to add to the retro pile along with 8 tracks and vinyl records.

     Ah, yes, I still have some records that are keepsakes.  Do you write your own songs?

   Yes, much of the time. My concerts are a mix of original music and cover tunes but I love to write my own when I can. And whenever I need a good laugh, I work on creating parodies. For example, I changed the old song Daddy's Hands to Daddy's Hair. It's a tribute to my awesome Dad and his, um, hair-challenged predicament. :)

 
   That's funny. Do you have another job or career besides music?

   Yes and I confess it's hard to describe. There's no good job title for it. My manager calls it 'being a musicianary'! In 2004, I signed with Incubator Creative Group which is a record label and management company out of Santa Clara, Oregon. Basically, I help encourage people battling depression, people pleasing and grief, all struggles I've dealt with in depth. In fact, this past year I wrote a book about it! (Hollow Victory: How to Identify & Disarm 5 Landmines that Make Victorious Christian Living Feel Like a Lie) I travel to churches, women's retreats, prisons (basically anyone who is willing to put up with me) and talk about how radically God has transformed my life. So along with music, I do a lot of public speaking, comedy and writing.

 
  Do you still go to writer’s conferences with your mom?

   Absolutely! We are planning on attending the national ACFW conference in St. Louis next year. It's a great time for both of us to get creatively energized, deepen our craft and bond a little closer. And laugh. We always laugh.

 
Does your mom still write?

   At the moment, no. Her job is full-time and extremely stressful. She is brimming with ideas but hasn't had a chance to start fleshing them out yet. But when she does, I'll be her biggest fan! Actually, I suppose I already am.

 
 If one song could tell your life story, what would that song be?

   Wow. That's a tough one. That's like asking a chef what his favorite recipe is! I would probably have to say a song I wrote called December Songbird. Over the past several years, I've lost two babies in miscarriages and have learned that praise is a choice. This song encompasses the idea of what Job declared. "The LORD has given and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." Come what may, I will continue to praise His great name.

         Tell us something about yourself that we might not have heard.

   Haha! I've been doing that game on facebook where a person is given a number and they have to list a certain number of things people may not know about them. So I suppose that list can apply here too! Here are my top six:

          * I've done my fair share of cow-tipping.
* I can only sleep on the cool side of the pillow.
* I used to have a wall-hanging in my bedroom growing up that spelled out my name     with each letter hooked together. T-A-R-A. My brother would come in and re-arrange them on a regular basis to spell A-R-A-T. 
* My nieces and nephews call me "Aunt Spaz" and think that's my real name.
* During our wedding ceremony, the church caught on fire. True story.
* I am the biggest history nerd of all time.

           Where do you do your best writing or practicing?

   I can write just about anywhere but my favorite is my front porch when the weather is nice. I have a bench surrounded by flowers that I can relax in while I type away on my laptop. Usually if I'm out there, my kids are too. Getting to hear their squeals and giggles as they ride their scooters or play with their dogs on the front lawn is a great way to write.               It's also my favorite place to study my Bible.

          I love to practice music at my piano, mainly because of the sweet memories it brings. It's an old player piano that my Grandpa gave my Grandma on their first anniversary. That was over sixty years ago. When I was little, I would sit next to Grandpa on that old piano bench and giggle as he played Has Anybody Seen my Gal?. Every time he sang "five foot two, eyes of blue", he would elbow me in the ribs and grin. I always think of him when play that old piano.
 
Thank you, Tara , for stopping by to answer all my questions.  I've loved getting better acquainted with you.

Tara Johnson is a singer, author and songwriter from Alexander, AR.  In 2004, she signed with Incubator Creative Group, a Christian and ministry based record label out of Eugene, OR.  Tara loves to travel to churches, ladies retreats and prisons to share her testimony of how God led her out of a life of people-pleasing and depression into a new walk with Him. 

 This past year has kept Tara busy with singing engagements, counseling with people who are battling depression and writing her fourth book Hollow Victory.  In 2012, she won the Bronze Medal in the Frazier awards hosted by My Book Therapy and has articles published in Plain Truth Magazine. She and her husband Todd have been married for sixteen years and the Lord has blessed them with five children:  Bethany (10), Callie (7), Nathan (4 months) and Taylor Lynn and Morgan Lane who are with Jesus.

 You can contact Tara at  www.TaraJohnsonMinistries,  through facebook, twitter (@TaraMinistry) or email her at tara@taraministries.com
 

 
Janet, here - I'd like to add a footnote of my own. Tara recently sent me her book Hollow Victory: How to Identify & Disarm 5 Landmines that make Victorious Christian Living Feel Like a Lie.

I began reading it right away, but as posted previously, I'm a slow reader. Also, I keep a fiction and a non-fiction book going at the same time. I wanted to give this short review.

I find Hollow Victory encouraging, inspiring, and helpful. The story of the Songbird touched my life. We must learn to deal with grief, depression, people-pleasing, perfectionism, and fear/anxiety to live in victory. Tara gives us ways to disarm these using God's tried and true methods. These landmines destroy compulsive people like me. I can and will use Tara's prescribed methods for myself and teach them in my weekly Divine Dining weight loss classes here in Wichita Falls, TX.

Thank you, Tara, for being obedient to God in writing this book. Thanks also for sending me a copy. I highly recommend it.