Sunday, November 29, 2009

Aren't You Amazed?

So, the last few months I've been studying "What is truth?" You know, all the basic questions of life that the new-agers try to dump on us. "Who Am I?" "Where did I come from?" "Is there really anything after this life?" Those mind boggling questions that really no one can answer with precision. (Hence, the reason the new-agers grasp hold and say there is no God...cuz' they don't get that God is SO BIG. And honestly, it's sad they are lost to their own refusal to look up instead of out. -- sigh!)

It's hard to convince someone God exists by using scripture. They don't believe scripture. So our only real weapon is our own life. Ultimately, our own depth of joy, peace and love in Christ becomes the weapon to fight with. Imagine that. 'Reckon that's why God tells us to put on His armor everyday?

My friend asked me, "So do you really believe this God stuff?"

I found myself...well...speechless, at best. My first thought was, "You're a Christian, you idiot, what do you think?" But, not only would that have seemed crass, it wouldn't have been the example God wanted me to present. Then I realized something. It's harder to convince a questioning Christian than a non-believer! They can fight back with scripture or just the denial of it. So, where do I stand in this battle? Perhaps a greater question than "why am I here?"

As we say in East Tennessee, "I hadda thunk on that." And thunk I did--all day and the bigger part of the night. And when I woke up in the a.m. hours tossing the question over in my mind, I suddenly felt very "ill-equipped." So, I got up, walked to the bathroom and splashed water on my face. The night light cast a yellow glow around my silhouette and I watched as water dripped off my nose. "Shesh, God. I'm speechless here."

"Why?" He whispered.

"Because, I'm not sure I know how to answer my friend's question."

"What was your answer?"

"Ah - you answer a question with a question. That's just hunk-dory! My answer was YES! I believe in this God stuff." What else would it have been?

"Do you live your answer?" God whispered. I had to stop and think on that one, too. Did I? Do I?

"I try." I said as I splashed water on my face a second time. "I really try. But I'm far from perfect."

"Who said I expected perfection?"

This is the thing about God. He talks to us with questions. Hard questions and I never know if there's a right or wrong answer. I suppose the point is to make me dig deeper into my own heart. Ultimately, that is where the answers to all the hard questions hide.

I remember a song we sang in Sunday school as a child.

I've got the joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.
Down in my heart!
Down in my heart!

That pretty much answered my questions. Sometimes God gets clouded for us all. I went outside the other morning and the fog was so dense I lost my bearings. Now, I've lived in this house for 23 years, walked on the porch, stepped down to the sidewalk bizillions of times. But this time, the path was so clouded I slid my foot slowly in front of me feeling for the edge of the porch. I was completely turned around and I felt as though I'd fall. Honestly, it was a little frightening. But eventually, I turned loose of the door and trusted the way I knew by heart. And Guess what?

It was still there. I extended my hand and began to walk. I knew the fence would eventually be there. And it was. I didn't sway off the sidewalk toward the pond (thank goodness, I've fallen into that rascal before, butt first!) I say with great conviction, that my heart and mind knew the way because it was the truth. The truth doesn't budge. Ever!

I probably failed my friend in the big question of life. But then did I? My hope is that the light of Christ does show in my example and that the hunger for a deeper presence with God in my life makes someone else salivate for taste of Him, too. You know how your jaw aches when you smell someone's grape bubble gum on their breath. You can almost taste it by the smell. Makes you want a piece, too.

Yeah, without a doubt I believe this "God stuff." And even when I've wondered if God is ignoring me at times, I've never questioned His presence.

What is truth? Christ is truth.
Why am I here? Because God wanted to know me. Because I WANT to know Him.
Is there life after death? YOU BET. We just can't get our heads around it.
Who is God? I would say, "Who is He not?"

So, for my friend, I pray God will lift the fog or push my friend off the porch to trust what he knows to be true and unchanging...the way of God...the truth...never changes paths.

I hope that's a good enough answer. I hope the example of my life is a guide maker. I am who I am because of the God who lives inside of me and I though I don't always understand His ways, I never question if He exists. Even when the way is clouded I know He exists.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What's a Devotion?

This summer my ministry partner and myself were fortunate to be on staff at the Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. We spent the week teaching writers how to promote their work through internet radio and interviewing writers for

Oddly enough, we assumed writers understood what a devotion was. And for the most part,they did. With a little guidance they could take a personal testimony and turn it into a devotion (the two are not the same).

However, through the hours we spent working with writers and enjoying every second of it, the revelation hit me on the last leg of my plane trip home.

It rained torrential bucketfulls in Philadelphia which threw my flight behind. I watched as the pilots and flight attendants waded across the tarmac through ankle deep water to board the plane - and I thought. Now that's devotion!

With ten minutes to spare my flight landed in Cincinnati. The cabin door opened and through the window I eyed the automatic staircase being pushed against the side of the plane. Well, almost. It rolled within five-feet of the door and stopped, not to be moved another inch. The machine operator patiently shifted gears forward and backward, over and over and OVER. Still the stairs wouldn't budge. In my impatience, I thought to myself, "Now THAT'S REALLY devotion! The guy just keeps trying."

After 45 minutes waiting to disembark, the mechanics physically lifted the stairs and moved them securely against the door. The airline staff directed us off the plane, down a corridor and into the airport. As soon as I stepped into the waiting area, I heard my name over the intercom, "Cindy Sproles, report to Delta 6215 desk." I looked on the monitor for any clue to where Delta 6215 was located. Finally, in a last ditch effort to catch the one remaining flight home, I asked the guy at Delta 7166 desk. "They're calling my name but I can't find Delta 6215."

"No problem, he said. "It's this desk." I bit my lip, puzzled.

"But it says Delta 7166."

"Right. They're holding the plane for you." I didn't get it but I figured if they were holding flight 7166 for me, they had to know the numbers didn't match.

Are you ready for a chuckle? Here goes...

The guy at the desk motioned me through the same door I'd entered. I was met by the same flight attendant who walked me down the exact corridor and BACK ONTO the same plane I had left. You got it. The same plane. I wondered WHY I couldn't have just just stayed put? And before you ask...yes, I even had the same seat from the previous flight, only this time I had to step over a nice man to get to it.

I laughed as I shoved my computer under my seat. In fact, I continued to laugh which peaked the man's interest. Settling into my seat, I flipped open a book my agent had given me. The man smiled and tapped my book. "Southern Romance."

"It is indeed. My agent wants me to write a romance. So I need to read one to write one."

One tidbit led to another and we began to chat. I found out he was a neurological surgeon who lived in a neighboring town close to my home. As we talked I told him about the opportunity to teach aspiring writers about writing devotions.

He cocked his head to one side and said, "What's a devotion?"

This very educated and intelligent man, who made his living performing surgery inside people's heads, didn't have a clue what a devotion was. Actually, he didn't believe in God either so why would he know what a devotion was?

I thought for a minute. I took for granted WHAT a devotion was. Every morning of my life, I get up and dig into the Word, then say my prayers. But I had to explain what a devotion was to a man who didn't believe in God.

We talked the entire trip home and when we landed I gave him a Christian Devotions business card and asked him to visit the site. He promised he would, in fact, he put the card in his wallet instead of trashing it.

I got to tell him about the God he didn't believe in. And before it was over the best description of a devotion I could come up with was this:

A devotion is NOT just what you read about God,
it's the time you spend
getting to know Him as well.

We're devoted to lots of things in our lives but are the things we're devoted to giving back to us? So I ask this question....where does your devotion lie? Family, friends, work? or God? You tell me. What is a devotion?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Truth or Consequences?

I recently met a lady who told me she was having a party. She'd bought beautiful invitations, planned a fully catered meal with dessert tables and hired a bartender to manage a full bar.

I'm not wealthy by any stretch of the means. I'm not sure I'd recognize ole' Benjamin if he ran by the house flying his kite naked. But judging from Teresa's (that's what we'll call her) dress and her 1987 Dodge, I figured she wasn't in the position to even know whose face donned the front of a $100 bill. So I asked her, "Teresa, why the big party and better yet, did someone die and leave you a truck load of money?"

"Well, as a matter of fact, dad's brother died and I'm the only remaining relative. So I got his small estate."

**Open mouth, insert foot.** I tried to load my groceries in the car without looking her in the eye. Maybe that Freudian slip breezed over her head.

The next logical question had to be asked. "So why the big party? You planning on dying soon, too?"

"Funny you should say that. The doctor informed me I have stage 4 breast cancer."

In the Smokey Mountains there are these huge boulders in the rivers. I wanted to crawl under one. Since, I was two for two, I ventured on to ask yet another stupid question.

"Okay, at the risk of finishing off what dignity I have left. Explain."

She proceeded to tell me her Uncle James had died and left her a $50K. And since fate had already crossed her pathway, she was making plans "to go out with a bang." Teresa talked about her uncle's funeral and how every person that visited his casket had something nice to say. Not one ugly thing was said about her uncle--even the ones she knew didn't particularly like him.

"I listened to people ramble on all evening about man who really only loved one thing in his life--his Chihuahua. (Figures it would be a Chihuahua, not something pleasant like, say...a golden retriever.) She said, she'd decided to have a party and host her own funeral before she passed. Her words were, "I want people to tell me the truth before I die so I can make things right if need be."

The look on my face must have screamed at her or it could have been the fact that my buggy slipped out of my hands banging against my bumper, but I just didn't think fast enough on my feet before she slipped an invitation into my hand.

"Thank you...I guess." I stammered. What do ya say to someone like that? Sorry, Teresa, I'm sure I'm busy for your pre-planned wake. I'll drop a vase of flowers by on Monday. I don't think so.

"I know you think I'm crazy. But I want the truth from people before I die. Not after. Does me no good after the fact."

I had to admit...the girl had a point. I took her invitation and slipped it in my purse. Still haven't torn open the envelope. Just don't have the gumption. But I'll tell you this. As I sit staring at an unopened linen envelope, I think Teresa probably asks the question most folks aren't brave enough to utter. What is truth?

I've thought a lot about that question over the past few months. And in the beginning I gave the standard answers -- truth is trust and honesty, not lying, being upright and righteous. Thing is, God kept saying, "Cin, dig deeper. You can figure this age old question out."

Then one day I was reading in the Book of John (He was a writer so I suppose I gravitate to his skills and craftsmanship.) The trial of Christ. That's when I suddenly saw it. I'd read the passage hundreds of times, memorized parts of it yet never recognized the answer.

Pilate mocks Christ, "You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king."

But this is what got me.

Jesus said, "In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

Right there was the answer. What is truth? God is truth and Jesus came to testify that.

Funny how we read and study and never have a revelation like that. Never come to the realization that not only did Jesus come to save us but He came FIRST to testify to the truth. It's that simple, we just can't see past the ends of our noses. God is truth.

I can't say I want to be like Teresa and throw a party so people will say all the truthful things about me like, "Remember the time she had that big piece of spinach hung between her eye teeth before she spoke at that ladies conference in Atlanta? Or that even after she lost 10 lbs. the black pants still showed all the lumps and bumps of the middle age spread. Who needs that? There's something to be said for being the honored guest at a're there but you don't have to listen to the comments. Your ears are glued closed.

The one thing I gathered from this whole "what is truth?" question was that I needed to learn what and who truth was. And if I chose to ignore the truth, at some point there would be a real consequence. I don't know about you....but I'm not a fan of consequences and I certainly don't want to choose between door number 1, door number 2 or door number 3.

I didn't go to Teresa's pre-funeral fiasco. Instead, I looked her in the eye and said, "I hope your party goes well. Knock 'em dead!"

That fell out of my mouth before I could stop it. I squinched my face and shrugged my shoulders as I pushed my buggy to the rack. I'm glad I know the Truth, the Way and the Light. He already paid the consequence for me. Now whatever door I open is a winner.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pray Specifically or Pray Continually?

I love to walk. In my younger years, I was an outfitter, training others to hike the Appalachian Mountains or canoe down the Nolichucky River. There's great peace in walking the paths God has meticulously drawn in the hillsides.

After my children were born, hiking went by the wayside but eventually, as they reached adulthood, I walked again. Been at it for the past ten years, off and on.

Walking is where I talk to God. It's the place I come to find restoration and renewal. Grant you, I'm slow sometimes. Over the years, my lungs have grown weak with asthma, but I'm persistent. No matter how steep the climb, I just keep trudging until I reach the top. It's a slow continual process.

Recently my friend told me I needed to pray specifically. He said my prayers were...for lack of better words, too broad. That I asked God for too much provision because I assumed I knew exactly what was needed when maybe my requests were way too much for the need. He likened my prayers to a teenager saying, "Dad, I need a ride to the game. Will you buy me a car?" He said, "Pray specifically for daily needs."

Now, I get what he's saying, but I don't agree (that's what makes true friendship an adventure -- agreeing at times to disagree). We're all different in how we know God -- how we walk and talk with Him, how intimate our relationship is with Him. Perhaps it's the difference in men and women, but I pray "guesstimating"...assuming God knows I round off the figures.

I upholstered a couch once and when I measured the length of the couch, I stretched my arms and measured how many "arms lengths" the couch was. My girlfriend asked me in the store, "Did you measure the sofa?" I smiled and stretched out my arms--thought she would stroke on the spot. I unrolled the bolt of material, used my guesstimate and bought the material. When we were finished I'd over measured by 2 inches. Hummm....must be something to a "guesstimate."

But the fact is...God knows--whether I get it right or not. He knows accurately. All He asks me to do is to ALWAYS be joyful, CONTINUALLY pray, and BE THANKFUL...even when it hurts. (That's from the Cindy Version of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - a guesstimation, I'm sure!)

My prayers always begin with praise and thanks. And when I pray for needs, that's what I do. Pray for the needs. Sometimes I try to reason what a project may cost, because TO ME...I can have a better grip on what we need to work toward. If the need is more, God will fill in the gaps. If it's less, He'll provide the right amount. Abundance, not over abundance. That's a detail GOD will handle, not me. My job is to pray. God's is to receive and answer or provide--whichever He sees fit.

The fact is, praying is a lot like walking. Some of us can sprint the mountain in no time, others meander. But some of us, love the walk, we just don't have the lungs for it. So we climb the mountain a few steps at a time. We stop frequently along the way because walk is hard--we even stop from time to time, gasping for air. But we never give up. We keep walking. One step at a time. Continually, joyfully; even when it's hard.

I'm sure my prayer life can be improved and I'll take my friends suggestions to heart. I'll add a few specifics for "daily" provision and not things that lay a few months down the road. But for the most part, God and I have a method. I bet you have one, too. And as long as I am obedient to His command to pray continually about everything coming and going, then He'll fill in the gaps because my Father knows me and my heart. He knows my prayers are not greedy. (But then, the flip side grandmother always taught me to pray for the sun and I might just get the moon.) Not a bad theory when you think about it.

The path up the mountain never changes. Neither do my lungs. But when I go to my the place where they get bloody, I don't think God cares how specific I am, just that I am laid before His feet. My friend doesn't often pray on his knees (He has bad knees, but is that really an excuse? That's a question for another day :) Praying on his knees is not his method of talking to God. But it is mine. We're different in how we pray, but alike in the fact that we pray continually.

I love to meet Him on the mountain and I especially love walking with my friend. To be more "specific," that's when God speaks to us joyfully and continually...without ceasing.

"The method is not as important as the prayer," she says as stops to take a breath then continues on.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

He Said - She Said

The Hot Rod of God -- He Said
By Eddie Jones

“…your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” - Psalm 23:4b

Listen to The Hot Rod of God

In first grade Mrs. Swartz spanked me for drawing on the floor during nap time. I don’t recall if the principal paddled me, too. He probably did. I was a habitual offender when it came to school rules. So you can understand why, as I child, I wasn’t “comforted” by God’s hot rod.

Step out of line, whack. Break a commandment, smack. Chew gum, choke. In my mind, God taught first grade and wore glasses, a frown and hair spray that smelled like paint remover.

Then a friend introduced me to God’s Good News and I began to see that God spent more time saving, restoring and comforting his children than He did correcting them. The wrath of God was real, but so too, was His love.

When His children reached a “dead end” on the shores of the Red Sea, Moses lifted God’s rod and the waters separated. When His people faced the Amalekites, Moses raised God’s rod and Israel defeated their enemies. Later, as they wandered the desert in search of water, shade, and a decent Chinese restaurant, Moses used God’s rod to strike a rock. Water gushed out creating the first desert fountain around which God’s people built the Bellagio resort.

So yes, God’s rod corrects us, but it also provides deliverance, strength and provision.

What dead end confronts you today? What enemy threatens to overwhelm you? What need leaves your soul parched? Ask the Good Shepherd to lift His rod on your behalf, pull you close with His staff and cradle you in His arms.

We serve a powerful God. Let us call on Him to fight for us.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

Coincidence or Not? – She Said
By Cindy Sproles

“…your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4b

Listen to Coincidence or Not?

The busses pulled into the gravel parking lot, crunching over the grape-sized rock. A smile crossed my lips as the laughter and songs of 75 girl scouts rang across the pass.

With STAFF written across my shirt, the clipboard and whistle weighed heavy with the responsibility that lay ahead. I glanced across the dock at the canoes, paddles and life jackets. A quiet voice whispered, “Be afraid.”

I loved outfitting, but each new pack of novice kids was frightening.

The girls marched down the sloped bank to the dock as Dale, Rod, Randy and Lindsay each counted out a small group. Ironic that we had an outfitter named Rod and when he wore his Staff shirt, we just called him David.

“Shucks. Odd number.” I said.

“I know. Makes it hard?” Rod dropped his arm around my neck. Looks like it’s you and me to make the group.”

A dark-haired girl sat with her arms wrapped tightly around her knees. Rod coaxed her friends toward the life jackets while I sat next to her.

“You nervous?”

She nodded.

“Me, too.” I leaned onto my elbows. “I always get nervous when it comes to the boats and kids.”

“Really?” She said.

“It’s a big responsibility knowing your mom and dad trust your care to me.”

“I dreamed I fell out of the boat last night.” She held up her fingers. “I was this far away from the dock before I sank under the dark water.”

I flipped my clip board over and handed it to her. “Read that.”

“The lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.”

“Skip that,” I said, “Start here.”I underlined His rod and staff they comfort me. She read the sentence.

“See that guy? That’s Rod. See his shirt—it says STAFF?” The girl grinned. “You don’t think having a guard named Rod was a coincidence, do you? We had to hunt hard to find him.”She stood and walked toward Rod. I saw her mouth his name as Rod winked and nodded she’d be okay.

I’ve been afraid, too—unsure about the dark waters I was about to enter. Was it deep? Could I manage the current? Would God lead me out there then abandon me? He never has. Every step I take He protects. Sometimes He lets me wander but He never lets me get out of sight without calling me back.

And unless I decide to trek out on my own, I rarely get hurt. Even at that, God is still there to pick up the pieces.

Was it a coincidence that we had a staff member named Rod that summer? Don’t know, but his presence served as a constant reminder that my Shepherd is always close at hand and I have nothing…absolutely nothing to fear.

Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles are friends and co-founders of They co-write the popular He Said, She Said devotions and host BlogtalkRadio's Christian Devotions Speak UP! along with Marianne Jordan.

And now you can catch them each Friday evening at 7 p.m. on He Said, She Said Radio! (Call in number, 646-929-0706 ). They travel with Christian Devotions Ministries teaching the art of writing devotions at writers conferences across the country. Eddie and Cindy are featured in Spirit & HEART: A Devotional Journey.

Lighthouse Publishing

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Birth of Morning

I stepped outside this morning onto the deck. Dark. The moon thumb-nailed to the east and I wondered. How have I missed the sunrises all year long? What's with that? So kicking away ankle-deep leaves, I made my way toward the pinnacle of the deck and sighed. I glanced at my watch. 6:50 a.m. and still no sunrise. Then just beyond the valley, a glimmer of, it was mist. Morning mist. I took in a deep breath and waited. Seconds later the silver haze was trimmed in gold. I wondered. Is this what the streets of heaven look like?

Moments later, a splash of color. It was as thought God winked. I can remember standing atop one of the Blue Ridge Mountains and gazing to the east, anticipating the artistry of the morning and today waiting at the tip of the Smokey Mountains for the same thing. And as the sun bled into the night sky, I thought to myself....what it must be like to be in the middle?

I think today, God must have begun His painting with a specific idea, but as He worked He dipped His palm into the sun and smeared it with no rhyme or reason other than to play--experiment. I blinked and the soft yellows exploded in to brilliant. The morning sky-- on fire, blazing. And I knew at that moment...when I couldn't catch my breath for the beauty, that God had made it up to me. All those mornings when the sunrise was blanketed by the mist, "Today," He said, "Breath this in." And I did.

So this morning I have nothing more to say than I praise you for the beauty of the morning. For what is so simple yet so magnificent. Something that most are often too lazy to admire, I wait with grand anticipation to see. There is nothing more awesome Lord, than the birth of morning.

This morning I cannot ask for anything. I can only offer you the praise of your talents and thank you...for the opportunity to see Your hand at work. I lift my hands to You, my heart singing glory, glory...for the SON (sun) has risen.

photos; Cindy Sproles 11/09

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Faith & FINANCES: In God We Trust
A Journey to Financial Dependence

Jesus spoke about money and material possessions more than he talked about heaven, hell, or prayer. He noted the relationship between a man's heart and his wallet, warning, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be." This contemporary retelling of the Rich Young Ruler brings a fresh look at the relationship between a person's faith and their finances.

Within the pages of Faith & FINANCES: In God We Trust you'll find
spiritual insight and practical advice from Christy award winning writer Ann Tatlock, plus best selling authors, Loree Lough, Yvonne Lehman, Ginny Smith, Irene Brand, DiAnn Mills, Miralee Ferrell, and Shelby Rawson.

Faith & FINANCES: In God We Trust, A Journey to Financial Dependence - turning the hearts of a nation back toward God one paycheck at a time.

Publisher: Lighthouse Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9822065-4-6
$7.95 (special pre-order price)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Doug Varrieur

From the Heart readers I am thrilled to introduce you all to Doug Varrier. As a personal testimony of the effectiveness of his program, I went down three jean sizes (12 (almost a 14) to a large 6) in just three months. The renewed energy I feel and the continual thanks I receive from my knees tell me this is my new life program. I received Doug’s book and shortly after, sat one evening and read it all the way through. I knew it immediately was a book that the average reader would find refreshing. His book reads like a great novel and the recipes it contains are simple to prepare yet hugely satisfying. When my Dad, who is a diabetic read Doug’s book, he said. ‘Kitten (yes my Dad calls me his kitten) this book should be in all the schools across this nation’. I am thinking my Dad is a prophet.

Doug, tell our readers a bit about yourself and your soon to be published book.
Doug Varrieur, author and businessman. Doug’s personal credo; “help all around you and all will be well” A devoted family man, Doug has been blessed with three great kids, a wonderful grand son and his loving wife Sherri.

FAT TO SKINNY Fast and Easy! is helping people all over the world lose weight, balance blood sugar and reverse type two diabetes. FAT TO SKINNY became a success story in short order and was quickly picked up by Sterling Publishing Company, NY, NY

When does your title hit the book stores?

The book will be featured in the Barnes and Nobles “New Year New You” program in January 2010 with great expectations. It will also be available in all book stores and book seller web sites.

How did you research for this book? Where do you get your inspiration?
I was sick of being a fat guy; nothing I did seemed to work. It was time to get control of it so I devoted all my time to finding the answers and developed my own program.

What are you hoping your writing to accomplish?

I would like to cure obesity and type two diabetes in every human being in need that I can reach worldwide. I have the answers and I won’t rest until I’ve made a major dent in the problem.

How are you using state-of-the-art technology in your everyday writing life?
I like the social networks, Face Book, My Space, You Tube. These give me the opportunity to talk to many people who need my help. Computers have taken the place of the trusted Underwood and open all doors for each of us. The world is a VERY small place with the internet.

Is there an area in your writing that you are working on developing more?
I can now use three fingers when I type, I’m shooting for four

Have you had to overcome any obstacles in your writing journey?
The FAT TO SKINNY manuscript was rejected by 56 agents and publishers over a period of 90 days. As all of you know, that’s very disheartening. I self published because I thought they were all idiots for not seeing the magic of the book….then came Diana

What is the most important thing on your current ‘To Do ‘ list?
Finishing this interview… no just kidding. The FAT TO SKINNY Low Sugar Low Carb Cookbook (350 pages) The FAT TO SKINNY Low Sugar Low Carb Product Guide (175 pages) and The FAT TO SKINNY Sugar and Carb Counter (115 pages) are all within sight of finalization, it’s been a busy summer.

What has been the hardest part of writing your book?
That finger thing again, just keep on pecking away.

What do you hope people will take away from reading your book?
I hope people see the simplicity of weight loss and good health. I hope people find their answers to a longer and healthier life by following my lead.

What new projects are you working on?
FAT TO SKINNY Low Sugar Low Carb Cookbook
FAT TO SKINNY Low Sugar Low Carb Product Guide
FAT TO SKINNY Sugar and Carb Counter
Marketing programs for FAT TO SKINNY Fast and Easy!
A Televised Celebrity Cooking Show

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? The programs and
speaking that you do?
Facebook and My Space, search- Doug Varrieur

To contact Doug directly

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Perseverance: True Voices of Cancer Survivors

It’s always been said that children are resilient. Their simplistic and positive look at life lifts them above the norm, helping them achieve what the average person could not fathom. Perseverance and determination line the fiber of the young adults whose stories drill into the hearts and latch hold of the very soul of the reader. Carolyn Rubenstein has taken the stories of young cancer survivors and dug deep into the heart and mind of their desire to overcome. In this passionate and compelling book, PERSEVERANCE, the reader will learn to define the boundaries of the impossible and then soar above it. The voices and individual stories will change your heart.

This is a MUST READ for anyone dealing with the hardships of disease. More so, it's a better read for those who have never suffered the pain or loss of a friend or loved one to cancer. Your heart will be moved and your compassion ignited as you read the stories of young cancer survivors and how they pushed themselves to persevere and succeed.

Click on the book to purchase.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spirit and HEART: A Devotional Journey

We encourage our readers to support Christian writers and literature by purchasing books written by our authors. There is good, wholesome reading in the Christian market. Check out your local Christian Book Stores.

Spirit & HEART: A Devotional Journey
from the authors of Christian Devotions

Created in the image of the Father, we carry His Spirit and Soul, His Spirit and Mind, His Spirit and Body and His Spirit and Heart.

From the authors of Christian Devotions comes the first in a series of 30-day devotionals focusing on the image and attributes given to us by God.

Within the pages of Spirit & HEART: A Devotional Journey are passage markers to guide you into a deeper, more intimate relationship with the Father. Included in this compilation are devotions by Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles, plus, Christy award winner Ann Tatlock and best selling authors, Loree Lough, Yvonne Lehman, Ginny Smith, Irene Brand, Shelby Rawson, and Ariel Allison.

Just in time for Spring!

ISBN: 978-0-9822065-1-5

Retail: $9.95

SPECIAL pre-order price: $7.95 + $3 shipping

Contact us at and give us your mailing address and the number of books you would like to order. We'll include an invoice with the shipment. You can also mail your order to: Christian Devotions, P. O. Box 6494, Kingsport, TN, 37663.

And don't forget to encourage your friends and church to purchase a copy. Spread the word; advance the Good News of God's grace!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dress to Bless -- Sue Payne

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." Colossians 3:12

Lately, one of the important decisions I make daily is how many layers of clothing to wear in order to stay warm. I am not a cold weather person, so I take great care in dressing properly during these chilly winter months. Our thermostat is set at 65 degrees, so I have been known to wear a hood or winter hat inside the house to keep my body heat from escaping. These kinds of layers can become quite burdensome and time consuming. The time I spend getting dressed and then removing layers, not to mention doing the extra laundry it creates, takes a lot of extra effort and still some days I find myself chilled to the bone.

According to God’s Word, we’re also responsible for dressing ourselves with “moral excellence”, which is Webster’s definition of virtue. Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience are the wardrobe for the “chosen” who choose to put it on. These are layers we must decide to wear in order to share the warmth of Jesus.

Unlike the insulated attire we put on during the winter that holds the heat in, this virtuous line of clothing shares the warmth! And though there are more of them than layers of winter clothing, you’ll find when you wear these virtues, you can move about with ease, your heart and soul lifted with the joy and privilege of dressing like Christ.

Sharing this kind of warmth is never a waste of time, in fact, time management skills improve when you’re “dressed” appropriately. Others will notice your new look, too. You will be “dressed to bless” and they will be the recipients.

I have to admit, though, once you put these clothes of virtue on, it takes quite a bit of effort to keep them from coming off. That’s where the perfect accessory for your new outfit comes in! Colossians 3:14 says, "And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Now, all you need to do is a little “soul searching” in your prayer closet. God has chosen the perfect attire for you to wear. Be a super model for Christ.

Sue Payne is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in home schooling newsletters and church news bulletins. She is experienced in curriculum planning and design and uses her writing skills to encourage and teach others. Sue lives in Delaware, is married, and has two boys whom she home schooled for a total of fourteen years.

Friday, February 13, 2009

HE SAID, SHE SAID - Eddie Jones & Cindy Sproles

“…stand firm then,…with the breastplate of righteousness in place.” - Ephesians 6:14b

Listen to "Tents" Moments

What would you attempt to do if you knew you wouldn't fail?

A few years back I found myself sleeping in a state park near Newark, Delaware. Some months earlier I'd lost my job. Oh, I knew where it was. The job was hiding in a cubicle in Bangalore, India but I wasn't flying halfway around the world to bring it home. I couldn't afford the plane ticket, anyway. Couldn't afford a room at the Howard Johnson, either. So, that evening I set up my tent, unloaded my gear and then drove my twenty-year-old Toyota hatchback up the road to a writers conference. I had a dream and a manuscript and not much else.

Dreams are funny things. When you're not watching, they'll slip off and become real. Mine sat in the passenger seat staring out the window. I birth big dreams.

Before I left the house that morning I'd "prayed on" the breastplate of righteousness. I'd asked God to keep my thoughts pure and my dreams secure. Righteous thoughts are the lifeblood of Christians. What we think, we do and become. Lust long enough and you take what's not yours. Meditate on God's Word and your spirit aligns with His.

I have a heart full of dreams, some of them from God. God says He knows the plans He has for us. Plans for good not ill, plans for a future and hope. One of the dreams He placed in my heart is to write for Him.

The last night of the writers conference I returned to my campsite and found my tent in a heap and my sleeping bag soaked. The wind and rain had blown it down. I threw it all in the trunk, crawled behind the wheel and looked at the award certificate on the passenger seat.

"Come on, dream," I said. "We're checking into a hotel. God's given us an upgrade."

The award money for winning first place was more than enough to pay for a dry room, but none of it would have mattered if I hadn't put on the breastplate of righteousness each day and asked God to keep my dreams secure. The dreams, the heart of serving Him, are what drives us forward.

Jesus says where our treasure is our heart will be, too. Guard your heart. Purify your thoughts. Strap on the breastplate of righteousness and protect your dreams. Then march to the sound of His still small voice. Who knows how far He will take you.

Listen to Unprotected and Injured by Cindy Sproles>

“…stand firm then,…with the breastplate of righteousness in place.” - Ephesians 6:14b

I grabbed at my chest as the pain seared through my heart. I never knew anything could hurt so deeply. I thought I could press hard against my breastbone and the ache would stop but it didn’t. Instead, it resonated into an overwhelming throb. I lost my breath as I looked toward the ceiling, holding back the tears.

It wasn’t much of an anniversary—the day my ex-husband asked for a divorce. We’d enjoyed a nice dinner for our seventh anniversary and I thought, He wants to make a go of this. But I was wrong. He’d given me a sweet anniversary card and a pretty shirt, then slid a business card across the table with the name and address of an attorney.

It was over. Just like that.

The dreams of a long happy life with my husband and sons sailed out the front door of the Steak and Shake never to return. I wasn’t ready….wasn’t prepared, so when the spear was hurled, it struck center chest and sunk deep. The burred tip slipped into the flesh and tore away chunks when removed. I was unprotected and nearly down for the count.

As I crawled away, bleeding and wounded, the importance of being protected became reality. Policemen wear bullet-proof vests, firemen wear fire-retardant cover-alls. I had a breastplate. Why hadn’t I suited up? I’d walked into battle vulnerable.

I’d studied the armor of God as a child, but never absorbed its importance—never grasped the concept. So as an adult, I found myself prime prey for personal and spiritual attacks.

I wish I’d have understood then, what I know now. Had I have been armed with the armor of God, I could have protected myself. I could have laid claim to the promises Christ reiterated through the scripture. Took His victories and made them mine.

God’s armor doesn’t prevent our chaos. Bad things still happen to good people, but when we are clothed with His righteousness, protected by His breastplate, the spears cannot penetrate. We may stumble, but we do not fall.

God saved me that year. I geared up, bucked up, and stood up—this time fully protected. My life is amazing now. I’m surrounded by the love of a man who stands shoulder to shoulder with me when we’re faced with hardships.

Protect yourself with His righteousness. Wear His armor. The battle is not always easier but it’s certainly less deadly.

Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles
are friends and co-founders of They
co-write the popular He Said, She Said
devotions and host BlogtalkRadio's
Christian Devotions Speak UP! along with
Marianne Jordan.

Devotionlist -- Pat Patterson

The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!" He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. Mt 8:25-27

"How long was she under?"

"Five minutes?" the teenager cried. "Maybe more, I don’t know!"

I scooped my patient out of the water and laid her on a dry portion of cement beside the pool. The pretty little pig-tailed girl with chubby cheeks and dimples looked to be about eight years old, and as cute as a button, but her lightly freckled face looked dull and colorless, her eyes as lifeless as a plastic baby doll’s.

"I only took my eye off of her for a minute," her sister exclaimed. "I’m so sorry! Is she going to be all right?"

"Quick," I said tearing open the plastic wrapper for an Ambu-bag. "Get the monitor." My partner grabbed the EKG monitor and removed the electrode cables. "Somebody start compressions." I placed the resuscitator unit over the patient’s mouth and gave the bag a squeeze. Her chest rose and fell. Water trickled from the corner of her mouth. One of the firefighters removed his helmet and knelt by my side. He placed his hands on her chest and started pushing against her breastbone with a verbal cadence of one, and two, and three…

"Folks," I heard my partner say, "please stand back. Give us room." He pulled the backing off of a sticky electrode pad and attached it to one of her legs. He repeated the process on each of her other limbs while the firefighter and I performed CPR. "Okay," he said turning on the unit. The EKG monitor beeped. A harsh, erratic, jumpy yellow line traced across the screen. "Let’s take a look." He placed a hand on the firefighter’s arm. "Hold compressions."

The firefighter stopped. I held my breath. The EKG line flattened out, hiccuped once, and then grew into a regular patern of uniform complexes. Oh, thank you, Jesus!

I gave our patient two more full ventilations and then watched in amazement as she opened her eyes and began to cough and choke. We rolled her onto her side, careful to protect her head and neck as the clear pool water drained from her mouth and nose. "Non-rebreather," I said reaching out and snapping my fingers. Someone placed a hissing oxygen mask into my hand. I placed it over her face and waited, speaking quietly to her and praying silently as I coaxed her back to life. "Come on," I said. "You can do it. Come on back to us, come back." And slowly but surely she did. She pinked up. Her eyes opened. And then as if waking from a nightmare and realizing it was all just a terrible dream she closed those innocent blues again and began to cry. I closed mine too, but I began to pray. "Thank you, Lord. Oh, thank you, Lord."


Lord, I’m struggling. I feel like I’m drowning down here. I can see the surface but I just can’t seem to get there. Help me! Give me your hand, Lord. Please save me!

Have you been there? Where the cares of this world make you feel like you’re about to drown? Well next time you find yourself in the midst of a raging tempest with the wind shrieking and waves crashing all around, remember you’re not alone. Jesus is right there with you.
"Save us," his Disciples cried. "We’re going to drown!"

And look what Jesus did. He woke from his sleep. He stood and boldly rebuked the storm. And the wind and waves subsided. And peace fell over the scene.

* * *

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How Does God Work -- Cindy Sproles

I've often wondered how God really works. Let's face it. He's not always easily understood. You have to wonder what kind of God expects His follower's to trust in what they can't see. Better yet, accept His will when He seems so intangible.

Over the last 7 years I've grown to expect the unexpected from God. I never expected to be in the ministry (well, at least not after I divorced a minister). But when my writing career began it became my ministry. I spent so much time worrying that God would send me to Africa that I never looked at the possibilities that He would use the talents He built into my wiring.

So, how does God work? How do we know His will? Still questions that are hard to answer. But I can say without difficulty, that the day I laid my talents before Christ and said those infamous words....the words that we have such a hard time saying..."Use me," that my life turned around.

I've never held a job that was overtly exciting--they were fulfilling but not exciting, but when God blessed me with a ministry, I found excitement I never thought I'd know.

God works when we ask Him to step into the lead. Our desire is to be the head dog, but that's not what God wants. He can't and won't work in us when we insist on taking the lead, scarfing the credit and basking in the glory. It's not about us. It's about Him. My ministry partner and I talked extensively about the "comment" lines on the ministry site. We agreed wholeheartedly that the comments needed to go. The site was God centered not "us" centered. It certainly wasn't the popular choice of our writers but the site and the ministry belongs to Christ. We are simply the messengers. We took the comment line away and God blessed the ministry over and over.

And knowing His will -- well, that's even harder. I've learned that I can know His will by assessing the blessings He's given me. When I look over the successes, whether big or small, count the blessings and give credit for the joys, then I can clearly see His will. Knowing God's will is not always understanding the future, rather it's praying for His discernment and then following the path step by step. I look ahead one step and access the results of what I've done. If the results are good, have worked well then I trust that I am within His will.

I mess up. But God continues to lead me and love me. Go figure.

He drives the words that I place on the paper and with each letter I offer them fully to His service. He has filled me with a passion to write and though my personal goal is to be published my spiritual goal is to be His servant. I want to be a writer. I am a writer above all else. I write continually, whether successful by human standards or not, and He uses me to speak to the guy next door, or the lady in the next office.

How does God work? Wonderfully and amazingly. And He has chosen to work through me.

Friday, January 02, 2009

He Said -- She Said January 2, 2009

Do Overs -- He Said, Eddie Jones

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’” Lamentations 3:22-24

“Well… I guess Christmas is over,” my son said as I guided our car into the driveway.

The front porch sparkled with lights embedded in green plastic garland draped across the railing. Through the glass window of the door Christmas bulbs blazed red, yellow, blue and green. An octagonal stop sign on the front steps said: DON’T FORGET TO STOP, SANTA. Our family was home for the Holydays and Christmas day was almost done.

I parked the car and turned to my son. “It’s not over, yet. As long as the tree is up, it’s still Christmas.”

I dread the dreariness of the New Year with its cold, gray days. Christmas is about laughter, fellowship and snacks that make me fat. New Year’s is filled with remorse, because it’s a time of reflection and self-evaluation and I seldom like what I see. Day one of a new year only serves to remind me that I’m still the same flawed father and husband I was the year before. My resolve to become a better person fades as the grind of life’s pressures shapes me into the grumpy old man I’m destined to become.

“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned,” read the entry in last year’s prayer journal. Beneath my confession was a list of grievances I had against myself. Petty things like, pride, lust, arrogance, discouragement and anger.

But today is a new year, a different day than the one before. “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That's why they call it ‘Present.’” I forget who said this. I think I heard it in a chic-flick. But it’s a clever way of restating what the writer of Lamentations said when he wrote; “God’s love is new every morning. His faithfulness is great. His portion sufficient.” My resolve to be a better father and husband may fail, but God’s compassions and encouragement never will.

So today I pray; “Lord, change me in ways I can’t. Help me to love my wife the way you love her, to be more aware of your presence in my life and to have the compassion of Christ. May my thoughts be pure and my purpose in you secure.”

No, son Christmas isn’t over. It is just beginning, as it begins every day, for those who truly believe in Christ.

Song Sung Blue -- She Said
Song Sung Blue -- She Said, Cindy Sproles

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

During the 70’s Neil Diamond walked on stage before thousands of fans, acoustic guitar in hand, and began to sing, “Song sung blue, everybody knows one…..every garden grows one….me and you are subject to the blues…” The words were just a few phrases but they reminded us that we all suffer sadness from time to time.

I’ve walked onto the porch in the middle of the night, a chill sweeping over me, and wondered if the incredible loneliness I felt was normal. Wondered why God had stepped away from me, taking his warmth, fellowship and sense of acceptance from me.

Where are you? Why have you walked away when I need you the most? But my laments fall on deaf ears.

Jeremiah wept for Israel. His song was blue, as well. In his sadness, he poured out his loneliness and brokenness, complaining that God had turned His back on the children He loved. Jeremiah knew that though his cries were not being acknowledged, God still heard them and he found comfort in the promise that the Lord’s love was so great, so massive, so undeniably strong that His compassion would never fail. There would be a new hope each day.

I watched as the clock ticked past midnight, the hands sweeping away another year. The metronome sound of the clock’s gears reminded me that God is constant. He never leaves me, although sometimes He allows me to think. He lets me long for Him. He waits for me to sort through my sin and seek repentance. God may not acknowledge my cries, but He definitely hears them. His proof is in the promise of a new morning.

When you hear a song sung blue welling up within your soul, sing the praises in His Psalms and meditate on the promises in His Word.

Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles are friends and co-founders of They co-write the popular He Said, She Said devotions and host BlogtalkRadio's Christian Devotions Speak UP! along with Marianne Jordan.