More Than Hugs & Kisses

It’s February, the month of love. Wouldn’t you like to read some satisfying love stories that give you a whole lot more than just hugs and kisses? I’d like to introduce you to four men who want very much to love and be loved, but who are facing some serious challenges to love that only God and His Word can overcome.

Private Detective Maddison Holt, who is so bound by grief, guilt ,and self-incrimination that he feels he has no right to have real love in his life. Pastor Cameron McDaniels, who has finally found the woman who is the answer to his prayers for a helpmate but discovers that, since losing a fiance, she is now afraid of loving anyone else at all. Lionel Butler has caused many a girl’s heart to flutter, but he never even notices because he’s convinced he’s destined to be a bad husband and father. His future looks bleak and empty. And violinist, conductor Jonah McDaniels, now in his 40’s, finally recognizes the one woman who can fill his heart and life, but is fearful that the age difference between them makes his situation hopeless.

When these four leading men in the “Smoky Mountain Series” novels put their faith and the Word of God to the test, they find the God of miracles is a master in the subject of true romance. There are plenty of hugs and kisses, to be sure, but sooooo much more in the “Smoky Mountain Series.”

Paperback or Digital at Amazon.

Find this series and more inspirational reading at this link:

 

 

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Having Church at Home Today

MAN REPAIRING CAR IN SNOWOur roads were way too icy to get out and go to church this morning. My church is about 30 miles from my house, and if I could have gotten to the major highway that is part of my route, I’m sure it would have been clear. Unfortunately my own road and the other local roads are still slick as snot, and travel didn’t seem wise.

Then to make matters worse, my heater in my car stopped working this week. But by the time I realized it wouldn’t work, I didn’t have time to get it into the shop before the snow and ice got here. However, in lieu of going to service (and preaching, which I was scheduled to do this morning) I spent good time with the Lord anyway in prayer and His Word. And I will undoubtedly do that more later today as well.

But just in case a lot of my friends out there are in the same predicament, I thought I’d share a couple of the short Bible lesson videos I’ve made this past year.  They are part of my Know the Word; Experience the Power series of messages, produced by the ministry God called me to establish several years ago: Radical About Jesus Ministries. Hopefully, they will encourage and energize your faith today, and you won’t miss being at church as much.

WHEN YOU HAVE THE WORD, YOU HAVE THE VICTORY

 

BUILDING UP OUR RESISTANCE

 

Have a happy day. Jesus Christ loves you!

 

 

 


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A Happy Plug for a Happy Little Book

RALPH'S AMAZON COVER - frontA great friend and ministry colleague of mine, Pastor Ralph Brandon, has written a book of uplifting, life-enriching devotions, and it has recently become available on Amazon.

Ralph has served the Lord for more than 45 years as a pastor, professional Christian counselor, and founder and administrator of a large Christian school. He is also a columnist for two newspapers, and those columns have been so popular that his readers began to clamor for him to put those articles into a book.

So a few years ago, he did so. The book Stories From the Sunnyside of Life, offers a unique look at truths from God’s Word. What makes them unique is that he’s wrapped up these truths in stories filled with the “down-home” humor from his life experiences since childhood, growing up in a little hamlet known locally as “Sunnyside.” I’m going to let him tell you about his work in his own words below.
______________________________

“Nestled deeply into the southern portion of the state of Illinois, USA, is a little hamlet known as Sunnyside. I grew up there, and my wife Barbara and I still make our home there today. 

“That little hamlet — and the wonderful people who have populated it — have molded me in multiple ways, so it’s only natural that as I go about the work I’ve been assigned in this world — pastoring, professional counseling, teaching and administrating Christian schools — I find myself applying years of Sunnyside experiences to those endeavors. 

“So years ago, when I began writing a column for two local newspapers, I found myself sharing Sunnyside in my lessons and exhortations in those columns. As a result, readers began requesting me to put those articles into a book, and I finally complied. My first book “Stories From the Sunnyside of Life” is the result. 

“Early in my life, I discovered that the Lord has evidently given me a gift for comedy, and, to my joy, He has made much use of that gift as an asset in carrying out my work in every part of my service to Him. He’s made significant use of that gift in my writing. I love sharing the powerful, life-changing truths from God’s Word, and when I can offer those truths and lessons wrapped up in some of the “down-home” humor of life in Sunnyside, it’s a great delight. I’ve been thrilled and grateful to see how popular the first book is, and I’m looking forward to offering a second volume of similar stories in 2018.

“The Word of God says in Acts 17:26 that He “appointed … the boundaries of our habitation.” I thank God that He chose the boundaries of my habitation to be Sunnyside. The stories I share are not mine alone. They belong to all of those wonderful people.”
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Ralph will be putting out a second volume of similar stories this year, but if you’d like to check out Book # 1, you can find it in digital or paperback HERE.

I hope many of you read it and find it a boost to your life and your faith.

 

 

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Excerpts from my Christmas Anthology

STOCKING AMAZON COVER - frontHi, there dear readers. Merry Christmas!  It’s almost here. And today I’m posting a few excerpts from my Christmas Short Story Anthology:  STOCKING FULL OF STORIES.  Just five teasers, but hopefully they’ll give you the right idea.

‘What right idea is that?’ you ask. Why, the idea that you should hop over to Amazon and order a copy of the book just for yourself — or maybe someone you love — or maybe both. It’s available in digital and paperback RIGHT HERE.

Now for the teasers:

GOING HOME:

“I have a family somewhere. I must have. I can feel it. Admittedly, I don’t have a clue where they are, but I’ve made up my mind that I’ll find them.” I spoke the words somberly as Dr. Randall sat looking at me. I’d been thinking those same words over and over for weeks now, but today I’d decided to say them out loud. They sounded good, but they sent a shiver of fear coursing through me.

“But you’re sure you’ve had no flashes of memories since you regained consciousness?” Dr. Randall asked.

“None,” I responded, shaking my head. It still hurt when I moved it to any extent. I winced, and he walked over to the wall-mounted light, slapping up my latest x-ray for us to look at. He pointed to an area we’d been discussing for the past two months. “Well, this is encouraging, Peter (my choice of temporary names we’d resorted to since I had no identification on me.)

“What’s encouraging?”

“This area right here,” he said, running his index finger around in a circle over one spot on the picture of my brain. “It used to be covered in heavy shadows, if you remember.” I nodded.

“But those shadows are gone now. Yesterday’s CAT scan confirms what I’m seeing here – that the bleeding has stopped completely, and the last of the old blood is cleared away. The tissues look like they are almost normal again.”

“Then why can’t I remember anything?”

He sat back down, relaxing in his chair, his hands on the two armrests. “We don’t know, Peter. As I told you earlier, with memory, it’s sometimes as much an emotional recovery as a physical one that’s required for complete restoration. By the way, any idea yet why you chose the name Peter?”

I shook my head. “The frustration is almost unbearable, you know. It’s now my constant companion, and I fight really hard to keep it from driving me crazy.”

He sighed and straightened in his chair, resting his elbows on the desk in front of him. “I can only imagine – albeit that imagination is helped along considerably by all the research I’ve done and the other amnesia patients I’ve worked with.” He sighed gain. “And I always find myself a little frustrated as well. I want to remember for them, if you know what I mean.”

I nodded. “Yes, I can understand that.”

“I struggled terribly the first time or two that I worked with amnesia patients. All the textbooks and clinical studies didn’t prepare me adequately for the emotional trauma in the patient – or the emotional turmoil that the attending physician can find himself in. “But – ” He smiled suddenly. “The really good news is that in every one of the twenty cases I’ve been associated with, the patient regained either all or most of his memory.

“There were two patients whose memories for certain segments of life remained fleeting. But even those two people were able to recognize close family and friends again and were able to return to their normal occupations – one with a short period of re-training in some complex work that his job required. So the future looks bright, Peter. And, as I’ve said several times already, keeping a positive attitude and positive thoughts can make a world of difference.”

“I’ll keep trying, Doctor,” I said on a sigh as I rose to go.

“And don’t discount prayer, my friend. Pastor Patterson, who’s been visiting you and praying for you, has seen some pretty heavy-duty miracles in his ministry.”

“I’ll try to keep that in mind.”

“Oh, have you changed your mind about the online search?”

“Not as of this morning. I understand that, considering I was found beaten up out in a field, the police naturally had to run my picture through their data base. And I don’t mind telling you that I heaved a huge sigh of relief when that didn’t turn up anything. But I still can’t bear the idea of seeing my picture plastered all over the internet with a plea for someone to tell me who I am. Just the thought of how vulnerable that makes me has been too much to deal with.

“But … my resolve on the subject is beginning to weaken. It’s almost Christmas, and although the townspeople have been very hospitable to me, I don’t want to feel I’m the object of charity at some family’s Christmas gathering. I want to be home for Christmas!”

I couldn’t hold back a chuckle as I added, “In fact, I was at the library yesterday, and I checked out a holiday CD with that song, ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ as the first track. I’ve already played it a dozen times.”

Dr. Randall’s eyes lit up. “That’s good; that’s good. Keep playing it. Something within the deepest part of you led you to that song, and who knows what keys it may hold to open doors for you.”

As I put on my coat, I asked one more question: “Now that the bleeding has stopped, can I start working around the farm for the Morgans? They’ve given me free room and board and spending money for five weeks now – ever since I got out of the hospital.”

“I’d say you’re fine to do a little work, but keep it to just three or four hours a day for the rest of this week, and we’ll see how it goes. If the headaches get worse, stop and lie down a while.”

As I left the office I felt lighter than I had for weeks. At least I would be able to repay Edgar and Becky Morgan for their kindness in taking me into their home when I had no place to go – no money – no extra clothes – not even a name. But someday ….


 

SURPRISE!

. . .
“Vicky, we’ve got problems,” Dale Springer said as he entered Victoria’s office on the top floor of Springer’s Department Store.

“What’s up?”

“All those mannequins we ordered to use in our front Christmas window have been in an accident.”

“What kind of accident can dummies get into?”

“A real accident – auto accident – well, in this case a truck accident.”

“Oh, you mean the truck they were shipped in.”

“Right, and evidently all the merchandise in that truck was totaled. There will be no mannequins in time for the display to go in by Black Friday.”

Victoria leaned back in her chair and rubbed the back of her aching neck. She’d been working day and night the past two weeks – partly because she was trying to get Steve Templeton off her mind – and partly because, as head of the window display division at Springer’s, her busiest season was in full swing. She let out a deep sigh. “Well … I’ll have to think of something. Thanks for letting me know as soon as you could, Dale.”

“Sure thing.” He turned to leave, but then turned back. “You know, I thought those mechanical mannequins were a terrific idea. That scene you described to me would really be an eye-catcher. The scenes would have looked like real life. Too bad,” he said and finally started down the hall.

“Yeah,” Victoria said, even though she knew Dale was already too far down the hall to hear her response. “That was the idea. To look like real
li – ” She stopped mid-sentence because an idea had struck full force. It would mean going out on a limb, but did she actually have much choice?

As her mental wheels continued to turn, excitement began to build. “Yep. I really believe it will work,” she told herself out loud and swung around in her chair to reach for her Rolodex. Her list of close acquaintances included two agents in the city who each had a long list of actors who were out of work or looking for more publicity. They should be a lot of help.

The following morning, Dale was back in her office. “Sonya just told me about the all-out search for live actors for our window. Are you sure this is going to be cost-effective, Vicky? It’s a lot of money.”

“Now, Dale, you said yourself that the idea of a scene that looked like real life would attract a lot of attention – and that converts to a lot of buyers – which converts to lots of money. We’ll be a sensation, and just think, we will be setting the bar high this year. All of our competitors will be scurrying to try to catch up.”

“Well … I admit that knowing Springer’s is leading the way in innovative advertising has a nice ring to it. Okay … I’ll back you on this, but … by jingles, girl, you’d better make it good enough to pay off.”

Victoria gave him two thumbs up and grinned at him.

Two days later, Steve Templeton entered her office. He hesitated at the door, but she put on her business face and greeted him with a smile. “Good morning, Steve. I bet you’ve come about the window display.”

“Well, my agent sent me over. He said you were racing the clock on your displays and wanted live actors. But if you’re uncomfortable …”

“Don’t be silly, Steve. Our relationship is in the past. All I’m concerned about right now is getting enough actors to do our front Christmas window. We hope to make a dramatic impact this year, and we need a real hunk to pull it off – after all it’s the window that covers half the front of the store.”

Steve preened and sat down in a chair opposite her desk. “Well, if that’s what you need, this is your lucky day, Vic. It’s just too bad I can’t clone myself, isn’t it.”

Victoria pasted on another false smile and said, “The hours are 10:00 to 6:00 with a break for lunch, and the actors will take turns working every other day so that no one gets too tired.”

“Hey, that’s not necessary. I can do every day from now ’til Christmas if you want. And let’s face it, there aren’t too many of us who can fill the bill,” he added, sliding his hand lovingly over his trendy hair.

. . .


FIVE VIGNETTES: WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
(A Futuristic Look at Characters from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol )

# 1 Ebeneezer the Suitor

Ebenezer had never felt his heart stop beating before. Was that what was happening, or was he just forgetting to breathe? He wasn’t sure, but He did know he was looking at the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen, and he was glad he’d worn the new suit.

“Ebenezer, meet my cousin, Marilee Cratchit,” said Bob.

Marilee extended her hand, and Scrooge took it, becoming submerged in the magical cloud of her cologne. He’d been nervous about attending this party, but since his regeneration on Christmas day last year, he was welcomed everywhere. Right now he felt ten feet off the ground. It seemed being a kind, generous man really was the most important thing in life.

“Ebeneezer, I’ve been very eager to meet you,” Marilee cooed. “Come sit with me and talk.”

He was so thrilled he could have danced. He couldn’t believe anyone so beautiful and fragile would be interested in spending time with him. His heart skipped a couple beats as he wondered: was he actually going to get another chance at love?

“What shall we talk about?” he asked her, contemplating ways to express his renewed heart to her. Ever since his transformation, he found that he wanted to tell everyone how good life was when you learned that people are more important than money.

“I’d like to talk about your money, of course!” she said.

. . .

# 3 The Spirit of Christmas Past: Request For Transfer

“Mr. Alexander, the Spirit of Christmas Past is here for his 2:00 appointment.”

“Send him in.”

As the door opened, his boss could see that Past was unhappy.

“Good to see you, Past. We haven’t had a talk in – what – three or four years?”

“Four years, Sir,” Past said, taking a seat.

“I get a lot of good reports about your work. But you look unhappy. Is something wrong?”

“Yes, Sir. Something’s very wrong!”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Can I help?”

“Well, Sir, I was wondering if I couldn’t trade places with Christmas Present for a while.”

“But you’re an expert at what you do, Past. Why would you want to have to learn a whole new job?”

“Because I never get a chance to use any of the new stuff, sir – any of the new technology and advanced equipment and devices that men have invented in the last several decades. I never get to play video games, or use cell phones, or those gadgets they call iPods. Why, do you realize I’ve never even had a chance to use a computer?”

“Well, I have to admit that I hadn’t given that point any thought, Past, but you don’t need any of those devices in your work, do you?”

“That’s just the point, sir. I don’t need any of those things in my work, so I get none of the fun involved with using them. And there’s something else that’s just recently come out – a brand new thing-a-ma-jig that they call Google Glass. Wow! It looks like a blast!”

“Google glass, huh?”

“Yes sir.”

Mr. Alexander just shook his head in consternation. He didn’t understand all this new-fangled equipment either, but that fact hadn’t bothered him before now. Maybe he was starting to fall behind himself. He looked back at Past, unsure what to say because he knew there was no way The Boss would go along with moving Past to a totally new time dimension.

Past looked at him hopefully. “It just isn’t fair, Sir! And that’s why I’m asking for a transfer. I was sure you’d understand when I explained.”

Mr. Alexander leaned back in his chair and looked at Past kindly. “Let me think this over for a bit, Past, and, of course, I’ll have to run it by The Boss.

One week later, Past walked back into Mr. Alexander’s office, having been summoned there to discuss the troubling issue again.

. . .


THE RESCUE

The old woman knelt shivering before the tombstone as her husband pulled away a pile of decayed leaves that seemed to cling defiantly to its base in spite of the wind that whipped at them repeatedly. It wasn’t bitterly cold — at least not like it had been many other Decembers in this city. But the wind was always stronger up here at the cemetery, and today, with no sun smiling down its warmth, the chill just seemed to beat its way into their elderly bones. Of course, sorrow had its own chill, and sometimes it was hard to tell if the icy feeling came more from the weather or from the pain within.

The old man finished his work and then joined her, slowing sinking to his own knees and removing his warm felt hat. Tears glistened in his eyes, but he wouldn’t let them fall. He had to be strong for her right now. He glanced sideways at her, seeing the tears flowing freely down her cheeks. She kept pressing her handkerchief to her face, to try to stem the bitter stream, but it did no good.

It had been a year and a half now since they had lost their second son. He had followed his brother into military service and then into war … and, finally, into the grave.

The old man shuddered out a deep sigh. He had brought his new bride to this country just one year before their first son had been born, and it had been a time of promise and happy expectation. The Lord had blessed them with two handsome, healthy sons, and they had been the sweetest blessing life had to give. He sighed now as he thought back over the years of raising two strong-willed, but tender-hearted boys. They had all been so happy … until ….

But he shook off the heaviness of those years of war … and the funerals … and the nights of wishing he could have gone in their stead. He knew his boys weren’t really in these graves here. He knew that for certain. They had believed in Jesus Christ, both of them, from the time they had been tiny little curly-haired boys. And they were in Heaven now. He couldn’t grieve for them, but for himself and his beloved wife … he couldn’t not grieve.

He leaned over toward her and put his arm around her shoulders now. “The wreaths look lovely, my dear. You’ve done yourself proud. I think these are the most beautiful you’ve ever made.” And she had made some beautiful flower arrangements, this wife of his. It had been her life’s work and a great joy at one time. Now, it seemed to always remind her of the need for flowers on these graves, and she took no joy in the work of her hands. Still … it kept her from sitting and mourning all the time, so he encouraged her to keep the business going.

And the money helped. There was no doubt about that. His pension and the little bit he made working as the church custodian were just enough to enable them to keep their house, modest as it was, and to cover their basic utilities.

But … with both their incomes … and with a little extra help from the Lord from time to time … they lived well enough. And every year at this Christmas season they pulled out their special bank … the little treasure box where they had put aside a very small offering each morning during their prayer time with the Lord. They paid the tithes on their monthly income faithfully, of course, but this little extra offering represented their desire to do more than just what was expected of them. And each Christmas they asked the Lord what He would have them do with the money to help someone not as fortunate as they.

The old man smiled to himself now. Christmas Eve was just three days away. They needed to get to asking the Lord what His plan was for this year. He leaned over and kissed his wife on the cheek. “Come, Mama. We need to get into the warm. The wind is getting bitter.” She allowed him to help her rise from her knees and pull her coat tighter around her neck.

The wool scarf she wore on her head had almost blown off, and he straightened that too and then placed his hands tenderly on either side of her worn face. “Our wonderful boys are warm and safe in Heaven, Mama … looking down on these wreathes you have made for them and feeling proud. Now … we will go home and fix some hot cocoa and take out our silver bank and have our talk with the Lord about His plans for the money, hmm?”

She nodded her head in agreement, and they turned together to plod arm-in-arm out of the cemetery and down the lane to their car.

As they entered their back door, he stopped a moment and breathed deeply. “Ahhh . . . your kitchen still smells like molasses cookies and shortbread, Mama,” he said, pinching her cheek tenderly and grinning at her. “What do you say we have some with our cocoa?”

His wife was taking off her scarf and coat and hanging them on the pegs beside the door. “You’ll ruin your supper if you eat all that sugar right now, Papa,” she scolded him. It never occurred to either of them to refrain from calling each other by those names, even though they had no children living now. They had rarely called each other anything else since their two little ones had started talking and calling them by those names. It had thrilled them so to be parents that they took pride in the names and wore them like crowns of honor.

Now he hung his coat and hat beside hers and grabbed her around the waist with both hands and began waltzing her around the kitchen. “Well, I have the solution to that!” he announced boldly. “We’ll just have molasses cookies and Scottish shortbread for our supper!”

“Now listen to you go on. What kind of supper is that?”

“Well … we’ll have a chunk of that delicious cheese you bought yesterday along with it, for protein,” he announced, as if that solved the whole question, whirling her around one last time and depositing her in a chair beside the table. At least she was laughing now, and that gave his heart a little ease. “You make the cocoa, and I’ll go get the treasure box.”

So while the milk warmed on the stove, Mama set the food out on the table. She was pouring out the cocoa when he returned carrying a small silver box that looked a little like a treasure chest. “Here it is, Mama,” he said setting it in the middle of the table and taking a seat beside her. “Now, let us thank the Lord for our food and enjoy it while the cocoa is good and hot, and then … then we shall count the money!”

When they had eaten their fill, and their faces were rosy with the warmth of the kitchen and the good food, they moved their utensils out of the way, and Papa pulled the box to him, unlocking it with the key that he always kept tucked away in his top dresser drawer. He dumped out the contents and began to straighten out the paper and sort the coins. “You count the coins, Mama, while I count the bills,” he said, and so they sat quietly, adding up their respective parts of the treasure.

When he was done, Papa picked up the little pad and pencil that he also kept in the box and wrote down his amount. Then he wrote down the amount Mama had in coins and added them together. He looked up at her beaming. “Mama, God has truly blessed us this year. We have put a total of six hundred, fourteen dollars, and seventy-two cents in our bank!”

“Oh, that’s more than last year or the year before either one!” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

So after having a cozy breakfast, the couple loaded the flowers into the car and headed into the main part of the city. As they passed the corner one block from the church, they noticed a small boy sitting on a concrete bench on the sidewalk. “Would you look at that little tyke, Papa,” Mama said with a chuckle. “He’s bundled up all the way to his nose.”

“Well it is awfully cold,” Papa answered. “Wonder what he’s doing sitting there all by himself.”

“Oh, his mama probably told him to stay put while she ran into the bank behind the bench there.”

“Mmmm, probably, but … I don’t know … in these times, I don’t think I’d leave my little boy sitting by himself for even that long in a city this big.”

Mama sighed, “I know, Papa. Sometimes it seems to me that parents don’t take the dangers waiting for their little ones seriously enough.”

“Well, here we are,” Papa said in a more cheerful voice as he slowed down to look for a parking place close to the first store. “Are you sure you want to walk back down to the church? I can come and get you, you know.”

“Oh, Papa! Don’t be silly. It’s only two blocks. You just carry in one of the arrangements for me, and as soon as I’m done here, I can manage to carry the last one on to the shop two doors down. I’m sure they’ll both want to talk a few minutes, and then I’ll come down to the church to meet you.”

“Okay,” he answered, sliding into one of the few parking spots left on the street in this part of the city. While Mama carried the arrangement for the proprietor of this first shop, Papa carried in the other piece and set it down where Mama could get to it easily. He went on to the church and began his work, stopping almost an hour later when he realized that Mama had not returned yet. But just as he started down the hallway to the outside door to check on her, she walked in, bringing the biting air from outside with her, but flushed with a smile and twinkling eyes.

“Oh, Papa, they raved about my arrangements! They said they’d never seen anything they liked any better!”

He hugged her. “Well, of course, Mama! What else did you expect with your talent for working with flowers?”

“Thank you, Papa, but I happen to know you’re just a little prejudiced,” she said, pinching his cheek gently. “But come … I’ll help you with your work.”

So they worked side by side, finishing up the day’s list of tasks by noon, and left the church together. As they drove back the way they had come, they noticed that the small boy was still at the same corner, sitting on the bench alone.

“He’s been there all morning, do you think, Papa?” Mama asked, her tone beginning to sound worried. Papa looked at the boy as they passed and noticed that he kept looking in both directions, stretching his neck as if looking for someone or something in particular.

. . .


To read the rest of these stories — and all eleven stories — hop over to the Amazon store and get your copy.
Digital: $1.99
Paperback: $5.50

I hope you enjoy the reading as much as I enjoyed the writing.  🙂

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‘Stocking Full Of Stories’ – now in Paperback! Yay!!!

STOCKING AMAZON COVER - front

IT’S FINALLY HERE in PAPERBACK!

Why not buy yourself an early Christmas present this year? My Christmas anthology, Stocking Full Of Stories, is just what you need to add that extra little sparkle to this year’s celebration.  Stories about love, challenge, hope, faith, and ridiculously funny stuff as well.  There’s 11 stories in all.

It’s also a great stocking-stuffer (no pun intended).

$5.50 at Amazon. Just follow this link:

 

 

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Thoughts On Thanksgiving – Day 8

first-thanksgiving-pub-domain-ed-for-blog

A LESSON IN THANKSGIVING

 

Pilgrims reached the blessed shore,
But bitter winters were in store.
Death and anguish played their part.
Still, ’twas with a thankful heart
That they gathered to expound
Upon the God whose gifts abound.

We, who in their footsteps trod,
Though they lie beneath the sod,
Now do take the lesson learned
From their lives, and, in our turn,
We prepare to thank and praise;
To that same God our anthems raise.

And just as they faced troubled days,
Through hardships grievous made their ways,
So, now, such grievous times we face,
That ne’er before have taken place.
Yet from their lesson we take heart
And lift our songs with grateful hearts.

We will not bow to troubled thoughts,
Nor in the throes of fear be caught,
We have too rich a heritage.
So with forefathers we engage
To praise and sing and laugh and play
And celebrate Thanksgiving Day.



Thank you for sharing this Thanksgiving series of posts with me for the past 8 days. I hope all of you are having — or have had — a most blessed day of celebration. And for those in other nations, I hope your harvest celebrations — whatever name they go by — are blessed and happy.

 

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Read It If You Dare . . .

Read it if you dare: You’ll never look at Halloween the same way again.

RACING TOWARD THE LIGHT: Supernatural Warfare in Inspirational Fiction

LAST 4 DAYS ON SALE

When a small coastal town is invaded by witchcraft that threatens the lives of the school children and the future of the entire community, the citizens must learn to fight back with a Higher Power.

Exhausted after a battle with supernatural forces, Sheriff Noah Bennett, with his white stallion Moondancer, travels to a small coastal community seeking rest and healing for his battered soul. While there, he befriends David, a 6-year-old boy who loves horses, and his aunt, beautiful Serenity Lawrence.

But the same forces of evil that invaded his own hometown have now invaded this small haven, and Noah must decide if he’s ready to be used as an instrument in God’s hands again to apply the principles of His Kingdom in defeating these powers once more. It will mean setting aside his recuperation – and his budding romance – until the job is done.

Can he teach the believers of Hamsted how to use the name of Jesus and His blood to destroy the witchcraft and the Satanic roots behind it? And is he willing? Walk through this journey with Noah, as he struggles to find a way to overcome his own fear and weakness in order to commit himself to fighting a new battle with forces from beyond this world.

Experience the power of God as angels and demons engage on the spiritual plane while believers discover the truth about their position of authority and their victory in the name of Jesus Christ and His blood.

RACING AMAZON COVER = 2 LINES - FRONT

Paperback and Digital — ON SALE at Amazon throughout October.
Paperback regularly sells for $10.49,  but you can buy it this month for $9.00
Digital is slashed from $3.99 to $2.99 until midnight October 31.

FMF October Challenge – Day 7

Today’s prompt is “Hold.”

“`
TRAPEZE ARTIST 1 - GOLD LIGHTENEDI hold my future in my heart. So do you. Most people seem to think that we have no control over our future. They think that either God or something called Fate are the powers that determine what our lives will be like as the years go by. But, according to God’s Word, neither He nor Fate are in control.

To begin with, let’s get the idea of Fate out of the way. God’s Word — which is the record of absolute Truth — tells us that there are only two powers working in this universe. There is evil, and the leading characters in that side of the story are Satan and his hoard of demonic spirits. But he is the lesser power. And the truth is that he actually has no power of his own. No power emanates from him, nor can he create any. But as a spirit-being with eons of experience in that realm, he knows how to use spiritual power to try to get what he wants. But man is the one who has opened the door — and holds it open — for the devil and his forces to operate in this earth.

The other power, the higher power, is our Lord, whose forces are led my Jesus. His power emanates from His own being, and He can generate as much of it as He finds necessary at any given time. However, according to His Word, we are the ones who open the door to Him as well, to allow Him to operate in the earth.

God put Himself in covenant with the human race, and in doing so, He — by His own sovereign will — locked Himself into conducting His own behavior according to the principles laid down in the covenant. That’s why He urges us continually in His Word to pray, pray, pray — and to speak only His Word in every situation. Because when we pray, we open the door to His involvement in our lives, and when we speak His Word we do the same. Even His angels are ordered to obey His Word, and I do believe that, often, they are standing by, wanting to help us in our problems, but they cannot act on our moaning, groaning, complaining, and fear-filled crying. They are waiting to hear us speak the Words of the Creator of the universe instead, and then they can go to work.

God tells us in many places in His Word that He often does not get His own way in the lives of men. He doesn’t just arbitrarily step in and make something happen because it’s what He wants. Most people — even most Christians — believe He does. But we need to stop believing whatever we have been taught by other lesser minds and start believing God Himself. This article is not meant to be a bonafide Bible lesson, so I am not going to cite loads of scripture references here, but I will throw in two of the best examples of the point I’m making: 1. God tells us clearly that it is His will for everyone to come the Jesus and receive salvation. But He also tells us that everyone will not do it. 2. When Jesus walked the earth, He wanted to work miracles for the people in His own home town the way He did for so many others. But His Word clearly says that He could not do any mighty miracles there. It does not say that He would not, but that He could not. And the only reason was because the people did not believe. They shut the door on His miracle-working power, so they limited what He could do. They prohibited the God of the universe from getting things His way. (You’ll find this event referenced in more than one Gospel account.)

So who really does hold our future? We do. Proverbs 18:21 even tells us that death and life are in the power of our own tongues. Most people do not understand that fact at all. But the lack of understanding is due to a lack of believing. God tells us that the beginning of understanding and wisdom is the “fear of God.” That kind of “fear” refers to reverence and obedience — meaning that we believe Him.  If we truly believed what He says — that death and life are in the power of our tongues — we would begin to understand how that fact is so. Believing God has to come before understanding.

Not only are death and life within our power, but our future — the very boundaries of our lives — are within our own hearts. Again, let’s go to Proverbs briefly. This time let’s look at Proverbs 4:23. This verse, in several translations, says we should guard our hearts with all diligence because the issues of life proceed from our hearts. The word issues is a correct translation here, but the original Hebrew word meant more than just what we think of when we see that word in English. The Hebrew word says that the issues and the borders of our lives flow out of our hearts.

What are the borders of our lives? They are the boundaries — boundaries that tell enemy forces how far they can come before they have to back off and leave us alone — and boundaries that tell us how far we can go in reaching for goals and striving to become what it is in our hearts to become. You see, according to God, what we believe for in our hearts — and what we are willing to throw our whole hearts into — determine how far we will go. And what we believe in our hearts also determines how far we will let the enemy come to hold us back.

A successful trapeze artists from a couple generations ago has been made rather famous from a story told about him, concerning his training methods for proteges in his field. At one point, he was training a student who suddenly froze in fear and exclaimed that he just could not throw himself out there on the bar and perform successfully. The veteran trapeze artists is quoted as telling him, “Yes, you can, Son. Just throw your heart over the bar, and your body will follow.”

We hold our future in our own hearts. So we need to take God at His word and then follow the advice of that veteran performer. We need to find out from God’s Word what wonderful things are available to us for our future. There’s really no limit.  Then we need to believe that Word and throw our hearts over the bar and into the future that we want.

 

 

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FMF October Challenge 2017 – Day 4

Today’s prompt is “Hope.”

HOPE RAYS PURPLE“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13).

The God of hope is our God. He offers us all that we can ever need for this life and for all of eternity by giving us Himself. But we must recognize that He says very clearly that in order to receive all those blessings manifested, we must be born again with His own nature in us. Being born again is very easy. All we need to do is accept Jesus the Christ as the Son of God who lived a perfect life for us, then took our sin upon Himself and paid the price for it with His own blood. When we accept Him, He comes into our own spirit and gives us that new birth into God’s family – with the very nature of God Himself created inside of us. (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21).

Moreover, it’s because of Jesus the Christ that God can now bless the entire world, because, as far as the Father God is concerned, Jesus paid the price for every person who ever lived, or ever will live, on earth. (2 Corinthians 5:19). Now He pours out blessing after blessing through Jesus, and all who will receive – by calling on Jesus’ name – may do so. But Father God is very clear: There is no other name by which we will be saved or blessed. Only by Jesus the Christ. (Acts 4:10-12).

Everything good that comes to anyone on this planet – to every nation – every people group – every geographic location – and every environment – comes only from the loving God who created it all. And the only avenue through which that holy God can bless us – a rebellious people – is Jesus the Christ. He alone is the Hope of the entire world. Many people pray for world healing and world peace. But it will never come until Jesus the Christ rules over it all. His sacrifice for every human being who ever lived on this planet gives Him that right. And, truly, He is the only Hope for the world, and the only Light that can lead it out of its own darkness.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord: plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11).

 

 

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FMF October Challenge 2017 – Day 2

Today’s prompt is “tell.”

I’ve chosen to write poetry today. The following is a set of stanzas in cinquain form.

ANGEL CLIP ART- WITH TEXTTELL

Tell me,
Is there a balm
That heals a broken heart?
That comforts and restores a soul?
Tell me.

And please,
Is there a cure
For sickness and disease?
Is there a power strong enough
To heal?

Tell me,
Is there cleansing
From sin’s embedded stain —
A solvent that can purify
All men?

Tell me,
Is there someone
Who knows the truths of life —
Who can be trusted to lead us
Aright?

Oh, yes!
There is a balm —
A cure for soul and flesh —
A purifying solvent for
All sin

And yes,
There is a God
Who came to earth Himself
To pay the price for us and set
Us free.

He bought
Our liberty
With His own precious blood.
He is Himself the way, the truth,
The life.

His name:
Jesus, the Christ.
And everyone who calls
He will receive. Now that you know,
Go tell.

 


Even though this challenge is titled “five-minute free write,” I am not restricting myself to writing for just 5 minutes. I’m using this challenge to spur myself to write daily after being in a rather stagnate state due to a grievous loss in my life and its effect on my creativity. So as I discipline myself to write something based on the daily prompt, I am allowing myself to continue to write until I feel released each day.

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October Sale – ‘Racing Toward The Light’

Read it if you dare,
and you’ll never look at Halloween the same way again.

 

RACING AMAZON COVER = 2 LINES - FRONT

When a small coastal town is invaded by witchcraft that threatens the lives of the school children and the future of the entire community, the citizens must learn to fight back with a Higher Power.

Exhausted after a battle with supernatural forces, Sheriff Noah Bennett, with his white stallion Moondancer, travels to a small coastal community seeking rest and healing for his battered soul. While there, he befriends David, a 6-year-old boy who loves horses, and his aunt, beautiful Serenity Lawrence.

But the same forces of evil that invaded his own hometown have now invaded this small haven, and Noah must decide if he’s ready to be used as an instrument in God’s hands again to apply the principles of His Kingdom in defeating these powers once more. It will mean setting aside his recuperation – and his budding romance – until the job is done.

Can he teach the believers of Hamsted how to use the name of Jesus and His blood to destroy the witchcraft and the Satanic roots behind it? And is he willing? Walk through this journey with Noah, as he struggles to find a way to overcome his own fear and weakness in order to commit himself to fighting a new battle with forces from beyond this world.

Experience the power of God as angels and demons engage on the spiritual plane while believers discover the truth about their position of authority and their victory in the name of Jesus Christ and His blood.

Paperback and Digital — ON SALE at Amazon throughout October.
Paperback regularly sells for $10.49,  but you can buy it this month for $9.00
Digital is slashed from $3.99 to $2.99 until midnight October 31.

 

 

***

FMF October Challenge 2017 – Day 1

Ooooops. I accidentally linked my Day 1 page to the main site for the challenge. To find my Home Page and the links to all 31 posts, click HERE. Thanks.

 

Today’s prompt is “Worship.”


SMILING WHALE - WHITE ON AQUAWorship: it’s the door to peace, power, and pleasures for evermore. Jonah found worship to be his most powerful help in getting back into God’s grace. When he’d deliberately disobeyed the Lord and ended up in the belly of a big fish at the bottom of the sea, he came to his senses and realized how foolish he’d been. When he looked around, everything he saw told him there was no hope for rescue– or any kind of future. But he knew that there was still a God who wanted to save him. So he turned his attention away from his circumstances and away from his own disobedience. Instead, he focused on his God and began worshiping Him. Shortly thereafter, he was cast out of the fish onto dry land, and he got a second chance to live the successful life God has always wanted for him.

Habakkuk found that worship was his most power friend when he looked all around and found that the trees weren’t bearing fruit, the flock weren’t bearing offspring, and everything looked like there was no hope for the land of Israel. But, knowing that salvation from all that looked hopeless lay in His God – and that what God’s Word said was more real and more reliable than what he saw in the natural – He worshiped God and called for the rest of the nation to do the same – knowing that as they worshiped, they were releasing God’s hand to bring life and productiveness back into their situation.

And talk about power in worship: let’s not forget Paul and Silas, in the depths of a Philistine prison, who decided that nothing in their circumstances could outweigh the loveliness and the faithfulness of their God. As they chose to worship Him, rather than bemoan their current, temporary physical situation, the power of God moved with such force that it broke up the earth and the building where they were being held captive. And not only were they set free – but the jailer and his family were liberated from their hell-bound lives into a blessed relationship with God for eternity.

Eternity is what it’s really all about. God wants us to have blessed lives while we’re on this earth, but He’s even more concerned that we have the blessing of living and creating with Him for all of eternity – enjoying the priceless, indescribable pleasures that we find in His presence. Psalm 16:11 tells us, “ … in Thy presence is fullness of joy. At Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Worship heads us in the right direction for eternity. But while we’re here on the earth preparing for that eternity, as we worship Him, God says (Psalm 22:3) that He will literally inhabit our praises. And were He is, we’ll experience peace, power, and pleasures forevermore.

 

 

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I Am My Beloved’s

HEART RIVER TRQUS BRIGHT“I am my Beloved’s, and His desire is toward me”  

(Song of Solomon 7:10)

Jesus loves you, and His desire is toward you. That word toward is very significant here, because most people who love someone have a desire for them — rather than toward them. And, in truth, Jesus does desire to have you for His own, but that’s only so that He can give you everything He is and everything He’s accomplished for you. He wants you to have everything He has. And He’s already paid the price for you to possess it. You don’t have to do anything to earn all that He has for you. The only requirement on your part is that you receive Him into your own spirit (your own heart) and make Him Lord of your life. Once He’s in that position, He can begin pouring into you all that you need and all that will make your life blessed and successful now — and throughout eternity.

In Ephesians, chapter 1, the Word of God tells us that God accomplished total victory over every force of evil through Jesus’ work of redemption, and when He raised Jesus from the grave, He gave Him absolute, eternal power and authority over every person and thing in the entire universe. Then the Word says that when God did that, He was exercising the “greatness of His power toward us.”  It was all done for us. You see, God’s power is always moving and working to bring us good. It’s always toward us. The truth is that if you become a child of God — by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord — you just can’t get away from God’s power working good for you.

Men and women for generations have sought high and low for some kind of religion that would satisfy them. They’ve studied one religious system after another and experimented with their various tenets and practices. But not one — not one single religion on the face of the earth — can offer man a total deliverance from his own base nature and from the evil that exudes from that nature. Not one of those religions can offer a fresh start, free of charge, and a nature purified and changed into the nature of the God who created us in the first place. Every religion out there tells us that we, somehow, have to do something, to earn a better life and a better eternity. We have to work at it, and then may not obtain our goal in the end after all.

But Christianity is NOT a religion. True Christianity is simply the Father God loving His own children, and being loved by them. It’s a family, pure and simple. Every parent who is worthy to be called a parent is constantly aware that he loves his child more than his own life, and his constant desire is toward his child — to meet his needs, heal his wounds, and bless him with gifts. And God is no different. That’s His desire as well. And through Jesus, the first Son, He calls all of us into His loving arms, desiring us to receive His love and become sons and daughter as well, so that He can exert His power toward us for good.

If you know this wonderful Father, you know what I’m talking about. But if you do not yet know Him, today can be your day. He already loves you, His desire is already toward you. Call out to Jesus and let His exceeding great power work a total regeneration in you today — and for eternity.

 

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Share Your World – July 24.2017

Cee’s ‘Share Your World’ challenge is a great way for bloggers to get to know one another better. If you’d like to participate, you can get the details HERE.

cropped-tea-cookies-on-apple-cloth-cropped.jpg

Question # 1: List some of your favorite types of teas.

My very favorite tea of all is English Breakfast Tea. I also enjoy Irish Breakfast Tea, and Chamomile Tea. I especially like Chamomile if I’m super stressed because it is a very soothing, calming drink.

Question # 2: If you had to describe your day as a traffic sign, what would it be?

I’m assuming this question means what kind of traffic sign would best represent what my day is like. That being the case, I’d have to say a “Yield” sign. That’s mainly because I’ve had several very stressful, problem-filled days this past week, and I know from past experience — and am being reminded again today — that the best way to deal with those days is to “yield” to the Lord and His promises. His Word says that we should cast all of our care on Him because He “cares for us affectionately and cares about us watchfully.” (1 Peter 5:6-7.) He has promised to deliver us from every evil and to heal us of every ill. So my job is to believe those promises and speak them over my life, yielding up my problems to Him so that He can solve them — and yielding myself to Him, knowing I’m coming out in victory.

Question # 3: What are a couple things people could do for you on a really bad day that would really help? 

Well, no matter what’s causing the bad day, prayer from friends who believe strongly in the Lord and His Word will always help. And, of course, in the same way that a mother’s kiss and a few of her home-baked cookies will help us when we are children — so a friend’s warm hug and a sweet treat prepared or purchased “just for me” always seems to help as well.

I’m reminded as I’m writing this of the first Christmas I faced after my mother’s death. I was in my early 30’s, but I felt some of the “little girl” coming to the surface during that first year without her. We had always been very close, and I missed her horribly. (I still miss her very much even 30 years later.) I was not actively grieving because I knew she was with the Lord Jesus and rejoicing in His presence. So I rejoiced in that truth. But my life had a very empty and lonely place nevertheless.

One day, just a few days before Christmas, a really good friend of mine came to my door unannounced with a gift — a plate piled absolutely full of all kinds of homemade Christmas cookies and candies. I was so surprised and delighted I didn’t have words. The specialness of the gift was not in the treats themselves, but in the fact that it brought a particular kind of comfort and love to me at that crucial time.

You see, all of my life, my mother had made loads of Christmas goodies every single year, and my sister and I found that one of our favorite Christmas experiences was working with her in the kitchen at those times — and then indulging in all those goodies for the next couple of weeks. In my sadness, I had not tried to bake or plan special menus during the holidays that year. I missed our special Christmas indulgences, but trying to make them myself just wasn’t the same. I think it was the love my mother put into making all of those things that had been the real blessing after all.

But when my friend handed me that plate, I felt the power of that same love. She had put together that gift as a special act of love for me personally, and that gift did more than anything else the whole year to make me feel less bereft and less hurt. It was almost as if my mother had sent her to me with those particular treats.

So even though it may sound a little trite to some people, the truth is that yes, in the midst of a really bad day or bad experience, sometimes just a little homemade cookie or fudge can change the whole atmosphere and direction of that day. It’s all about letting people know they are loved.

Question # 4: Regardless of your physical fitness, coordination, or agility, if you could be an athlete, what would you do?

Well, I have to admit that I am not big on athletics. I’m a person who walks briskly to help myself stay fit, but I rarely engage in athletic games. I like word games. However, I do enjoy playing tennis occasionally, and I really enjoyed archery when I was involved in it during my school years. I also loved dancing, and took several dance classes in college. But to say that I’d devote myself to any one of those things with the commitment and rigor required to be considered an “athlete” in that field would be stretching it a good deal.  So — I guess I’d just have to say I’d prefer to be a Scrabble or Bananagrams champion.

BANANAGRAMS GAME - PUB DOMAIN

 

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