Friday, November 19, 2010

He Said, She Said:
A Devotional Guide to Cultivating a Life of Passion

by Cindy Sproles & Eddie Jones




That's Why They Call It Making Love: A Devotional Guide to Cultivating a Life of Passion


Kindle eBook
$2.99

Now available in Paperback $9.95


How Newlyweds, Couples and Singles Can Draw Closer to God Through Daily Devotions




video

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Maverick Heart - By Loree Lough

Loree's new book, Maverick Heart will be out in days. Watch her video.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Caring for the Elderly ( www.cbn.com )

Helping Aging Parents Avoid Falling

By Cindy K. Sproles
Contributing Writer

CBN.comStatistics say that 70 percent of the accidental deaths in patients older than 75 are caused from falls. About 90 percent of all the hip fractures happen in patients older than 70.

As our parents age, increased use of medications, lack of mobility (due to stiff joints) cognitive impairment from aging, neuropathy (sensory deficits), even confusion and loss in judgment lead to thousands of falls per year.

Aging takes its toll on families. Parents often have difficulty coming to grips with their loss of mobility and independence. As a result, families fear talking with their loved ones about getting older. The aging process is difficult at best, but with falls being a leading cause of death in the elderly, finding the opportunity to discuss lifestyle modifications early will prevent accidents.

Take time to make plans. Start by making simple changes – such as moving furniture to clear a wide pathway through the home. Remove throw rugs to prevent accidents or place anti-slip netting beneath them.

Make slow modifications to the home, beginning in the bathroom. Bathrooms are prime areas for serious falls. Install handrails and a portable phone. Pre-programming phones with a speed-dial 911 will prevent elders from fumbling to dial in an emergency. Install a phone low and against a wall (next to the commode or in a lower vanity cabinet) making it easily accessible from floor level. When elders fall, they often cannot reach a phone placed on a table or cabinet.

1. Install a PERS (Personal Emergency Response System). This is a necklace or wristband worn 24/7. In the event of an emergency, they can press the button that signals an emergency call center. Help can then be obtained quickly. PERS units are available through local representatives, hospitals, and medical supply companies.

2. Install ramps next to stairs. Outside steps freeze quickly in the winter. Adding a ramp covered in gritty non-slip covering will ward off dangerous tumbles.

3. Make the house accessible. If bedrooms are located on the second level of the home, make the move downstairs or contact a local contractor who specializes in adapting homes for the elderly. Installing wider stairs or including additional safety rails can help aging parents get to the second level securely.

4. Invest in a cell phone to be carried in a pocket. Cell phones offer a sense of security for those whose love of the outdoors is important. Should loved ones fall outside, a pre-programmed cell phone can dial help. Several national companies provide phones with extra large key pads, minus all the whistles and bells, making it easy to use. The rates range from $10 per month to a pay-as-you-use format.

Light the way. As parents age, weakening eyesight and poor depth perception can cause falls. Take the time to add additional lighting to hallways and stairwells. Install light sensitive night lights in bathrooms and bedrooms that click on at dusk.

Restrict pets prone to get underfoot and trip loved ones. Pets are wonderful additions to the lives of our aging parents, but before one is introduced carefully weigh the pros and cons. Neither puppies nor hyper adult dogs are easy for elders to care for and though they are loving creatures, the safety factor must be considered.

It has been said that a broken hip leads to a broken spirit. The reality of the loss of mobility strikes hard once an elderly person succumbs to a broken hip. Parents are forced into nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities to heal. Bones heal slower for our elders and time drags as they recuperate, leading to depression or worse, just giving up.

As families make modified changes early in the lives of aging parents the risk of serious injury or death drops significantly. Though change is difficult for loved ones, the love children show their parents will be a comfort. The love of Christ is gentle, healing, and restful.

May the king's rule be refreshing like spring rain on freshly cut grass, like the showers that water the earth. (Psalms 72:6, NLT)

Show that deep and abiding love by taking time to trip-proof your loved one’s home. Take precautions early and preserve the safety of our elders.

For more stories like this, sign up to receive the Family Email Update from CBN.com every week.


Cindy K. Sproles

Cindy K. Sproles is an author, co-founder and editor of christiandevotions.us and DevoKids.com. She is the co-writes the popular He Said, She Said devotions and co-hosts the Internet radio shows, Christian Devotions Speak UP! and He Said, She Said Radio. She is a popular speaker for ladies conferences and retreats and teaches at Christian writers conferences. Cindy’s devotions and articles are published in Christian newspapers across the country monthly. She is a contributing writer to Faith and Finances: In God We Trust and also Spirit and Heart: A Devotional Journey. Visit www.cindysproles.com.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fishin' for the Basics in Devotions

Fishin’ for the Basics in Devotions

“Gross, Mom.” My son giggled. “You’re a girl and you baited a hook.”

I smiled at my boys lined in a row and waiting for me to squeal at the cup of worms.

“You bet. I love to fish and you can’t fish if you don’t bait the hook.” I swiped the slime on my shorts, popped the release on my reel, and cast the line. The red and white float zinged through the air then plopped at the edge of a jutting rock. “Now we wait.”

Little did I know my fishing experience would later teach me to write good devotions. Seems like a real stretch, eh? Not really—not when you write with fishing in mind. As writers, we’re all gifted differently. Some of us love writing romance, others suspense, some historical or nonfiction. Regardless of your chosen genre, the basics lie in a devotion . . . well, in fishing and devotions.

When I ask writers to pen a devotion, their eyes roll. “I don’t write devotions. I write fiction.”

“And your point is?” I ask.

There’s great skill in writing devotions. Not only does it improve your relationship with God by dropping you into His Word, but there’s a certain consciousness to a devotion. You’re forced to say a lot in a very small space. The skill of writing tight is suddenly revived. One romance writer commented, “I’d forgotten how important writing devotions is. It’s hard. It made me work.” It’s true. Devotions are the perfect writing workouts.

So what does fishing and devotions have in common? We bait the hook, cast the line, set the hook, then reel in the catch. It’s all about fishing. I’d like to return you to the old school method of writing—Hook, Book, Look, and Took. When you write (whether it’s a devotion or a chapter) with these elements, your work will be well-rounded. The hook, book, look, and took method offers you a solid foundation.

Begin with a hook and bait the line early. As a writer you understand the importance of a good hook, but threading the worm early (in the first line or so) tempts and tantalizes the reader. The world is full of busyness, and if you want your reader to stick with you, then thinking through a good hook is valuable. Drawing your readers in immediately raises their curiosity, strikes a chord, and bonds them to the words. It makes them keep reading. A hook sets the tone and pace of the work. So let’s go “Fishin’.”

The Hook: “Trout like the cold water and they like bright lures.” He drew the rod back and cast. The lure whistled past my head and sailed gracefully through the air, landing with a plop into the cold mountain stream.

Once we’ve baited the hook, we have to cast the line. In writer’s terms, we move to the “book.” The book is where you present your point or interpretation of the Scripture. It doesn’t mean you repeat the Scripture you’ve chosen, but it means you lay the groundwork of the story. This is where you and begin to develop the paragraphs the reader will count as memorable. In other words, you begin to tie the Scripture to your story and make a “relatable” moment for the reader. One they remember.

The Book: I had the privilege of fishing with my uncle only once. I don’t think he made it a habit of taking along extra baggage, but Mom was in the hospital and Dad was forced to work, so


he’d volunteered to watch me for the day. I was just little, but I remember my uncle strapping a bright orange life jacket around my chest and then his allowing me to slip on the giant wader boots. If anything came from the day, the boots were a hoot.

I watched as he slowly reeled the line, jiggling the rod just enough to make the lure dance. “You gotta tempt the little scutters,” he said. “They’re easily enticed.”

The lure inched its way toward the end of the rod. My uncle smiled. “Watch now. We’ll catch us a fish.” Within moments, the end of the rod bowed and the line whirred as a rainbow trout leaped above the wash and slammed back into the water. The fight was on . . . my uncle carefully reeled and released, reeled and released as the fish fought frantically. When the battle was over, the fish lay sprawled on the rocks, lure hanging from its jaw. Dead

Once you’ve laid the groundwork then move on to “look,” or snagging the catch. The “look” portion of your devotion is where we observe the bigger picture and bring home a practical application. Readers love to feel our struggle but they love more to understand our resolve and this is what we do in the “look” portion of a devotion—we bleed our wounds and tie in how Christ has offered us resolution, even if it’s not what we expected.

The Look: I learned more than one lesson that day. I learned my uncle enjoyed tempting the fish almost as much as he enjoyed the catch. But I also learned how easily enticed I could be. My uncle warned me about the hooks hanging from the lure and still, like the fish, I wanted to touch it. So when the end of my finger felt the prick of the hook, it didn’t take long for me to suffer the consequence of sin.

That’s how sin works—tempting by desire, and once we’ve taken the bait, the ripple effect begins. A sin to cover the sin, to cover the sin . . . We give birth to a pallet of fallacies, and if we ignore the consequences, the ultimate result is our demise.

Finally, we reel in the catch—the “took.” Once we’ve given the hook, shown the book, honed the look, it’s time to offer the reader a takeaway. Many think devotions should be sweet, airy, or restful. But devotions are meant to make the readers think. Hopefully you’ll offer them a bit of unrest, a reason to want to change things in their lives. “Took” is the part of the devotion that allows you to pull in the catch . . . change a life. Offer the readers a challenge. Lead them to make a decision and accept the challenge to make a change in their lives. This is what makes the devotion powerful.

The Took: Life offers us lots of lures—shiny, tantalizing, and fun. Learning to seek the truth opens our eyes to the hooks. Don’t be enticed by the beauty of the lure. Christ can satisfy your desires.

Christ charged His disciples to be fishers of men, and He gives us that same challenge. Brush up your skills, take on a challenge and write a devotion. It’s a great responsibility to write a devotion. You’re responsible to Christ for your words, so choose them carefully. Apply the Hook, Book, Look, and Took method to your work—bait the hook, cast, set, and reel in the catch. You’ll be surprised what you can do for God and for your writing.

********* ************ *********** ************* ************ **********



Cindy is the founder of Mountain Breeze Ministries and cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries. She has contributed to Novel Journey and Novel Reviews, and Christian Devotions. Her eldercare articles and devotions are published weekly in several newspapers across the country. She cowrites the He Said, She Said devotions with Eddie Jones. Cindy is a member of the ACFW. She attended Johnson Bible College and graduated from the University of Phoenix. She is a contributing writer to CBN.com and speaks frequently for ladies' conferences, special events and teaches at writers conferences. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com or www.christiandevotions.us.

Whispers of Rest Daily Devotional | CBN.com

Read my devotion posting on CBN.com for Friday, July 30, 2010.

Whispers of Rest Daily Devotional | CBN.com

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Curse of Captain LaFoote - Eddie Jones

My dear friend and ministry partner and Port Yonder Press will release his new young adult novel in the fall. Check out the video and visit his site...he's looking for pirates to sail the seas with.
www.captainlafoote.com


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Changing Our Outlook on Eldercare

Changing Our Outlook on Eldercare
By Cindy K. Sproles
Contributing Writer

CBN.com – Caring for our aging parents has changed. As more families hire outside caregivers, the assumption that everyone can be trusted often rules over practicality. Families strapped with continual eldercare easily lose sight of the need of additional security. The rising cost of eldercare is devastating. Families look at small pensions and even smaller Social Security checks and wonder how they’ll manage to provide the care their parents need -- and deserve. In an effort for immediate help and a need to stretch dollars, safety sometimes slips.

When hiring a caregiver outside the confines of a reputable licensed and bonded company, certain issues should be addressed. Often caregivers are hired on a handshake rather than fact and reliability. Families trust and hope the person who stepped in to care for their loved one is all they appear to be. Hiring outside caregivers require families take the necessary steps to insure those providing care are reputable and trustworthy.

How can a family ensure this safety? The process begins with one or two intense interviews with the caregiver. Assigning this task to two separate family members or a trusted friend also can provide an objective view.

Run a background check. Background checks are not a luxury to be ignored. Like in other professions, dishonesty lurks. Predators feed off the innocence and faith of the elderly. They stand ready to win the trust of families, and then wreak havoc. Local law enforcement can help with city and county-wide checks. State Bureaus of Investigation can provide statewide checks, while reputable background-check companies can provide national inquiries for a nominal fee. Today’s economy has left many individuals transient, so reviewing complete local, state, and national background checks is important.

Protect possessions. Lock away valuables or have them moved to secure places that only select family members can access. This includes jewelry, money, checkbooks, and valuable items that can be easily carried away or kindly coerced away from aging parents. The rule of thumb is, if it’s worth something to you, it’s worth more to a thief. Our elderly came from an era where “giving” away items was an act of kindness and aging can cloud the importance of those possessions. Our parents may innocently give away valuable items if a caregiver shows an interest or need.

Set procedures in place for “giving away” items in the home. Post them in plain view so parents are reminded not to freely give away possessions.

Be pro-active. Make continued “surprise” visits to your aging parents’ home when caregivers are present. Being pro-active not only ensures good care, but it lessens the threat of questionable activity. Elder abuse is on the rise. We must make sure of their safety. Check arms, back, and legs for questionable bruising. Talk frequently with your elderly parents. Be inquisitive.

Financial Responsibility. Be mindful of your loved one’s finances. Frequently visit the bank to view banking habits and records. Make bank officials aware of spending limits and individuals allowed access to funds. Set small amounts of cash in the primary account, but keep the bulk of assets in a separate account, which requires your signature or presence to transfer funds. Cap limits on credit cards and keep track of the charges.

Communicate. Keep an open line of communication with aging parents. Avoid being pushy; develop a bond of trust and unity between family members and parents.

Provide a cautious, not fearful, environment for seniors. Remind them the world has changed and make efforts to prevent them from becoming the target of scams. Encourage them to report suspicious activity to authorities. It pays to be cautious whether you have family, company, or private caregivers, or even repair and maintenance people in the home.

As the roles reverse and we become our parents' caregivers, seek after their care with a joyful and protective heart. Even when illness takes their kindness and memories, remember they would be proud and pleased by your help.

May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice! (Proverbs 23:25)

Taking the appropriate steps to ensure the health and safety of your aging parent should take precedence. The reward is seeing our seniors live a safe and secure life.

For more stories like this, sign up to receive the Family Email Update from CBN.com every week.
Cindy K. Sproles

Cindy K. Sproles is an author, co-founder and editor of christiandevotions.us and DevoKids.com. She is the co-writes the popular He Said, She Said devotions and co-hosts the Internet radio shows, Christian Devotions Speak UP! and He Said, She Said Radio. She is a popular speaker for ladies conferences and retreats and teaches at Christian writers conferences. Cindy’s devotions and articles are published in Christian newspapers across the country monthly. She is a contributing writer to Faith and Finances: In God We Trust and also Spirit and Heart: A Devotional Journey. Visit www.cindysproles.com.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Let Freedom Ring --Is that Cliche'?

I posted this photo on Facebook. Accompanying the photo was a post that said, We replaced our flag today. Seems we're the only one on the street who STILL keeps an American flag flying YEAR ROUND. To me...as long as we have men and women serving this country--they deserve our loyalty and allegience. Thank you for keeping us safe. May God bless your service.

A couple of folks responded they still fly their flag, others had replaced their flags on a regular basis. And then I got THE ONE response that made me shake my head and sigh. "The picture is of confederate flags."

To that I had to respond with "Sigh." The point of the photo (other than it was a great' shot) was to honor ALL our service men and women. I wanted to say, "Duh....reckon! I'm from the south. And you know what real die-hard southerners say, "The South's gonna rise again!" But I didn't.

Instead, I started to think about the state in which our country resides. Those Confederate flags simply marked 18 young men who'd given their lives for FREEDOM...they believed deeply in what they fought for, and their sacrifices became a somewhat iconic representation of the faithfulness of the spirit of this country...even when we fight among ourselves.

I wondered if we've allowed our own cockiness and yes, complacency, to let "freedom" become cliche? We've become so comfortable and "fat" in our wealth (and yes, Americans are extremely wealthy compared to other countries. Most of us have at least two televisions, an iphone, two cars, a home, and a Wii. And let's not forget our cigarettes and liquor.) But we also have freedom.

Odd, don't you think, that we can't run to Wal-Mart and buy a bucket of freedom. We can't locate the newest version of freedom and download it to our computer nor can we really get our hands around it. Yet we have freedom and it cost us a heavy price.

I think about my dad's service during World War II, and how he literally bolted off of a landing craft onto a beach with bullets zinging past his head. My brother asked him, "Dad, where did you find the courage?"

Dad said, "It wasn't courage. It was a matter of survival."

Weeks later, he's shot through the neck by a sniper, patched up and sent back to the front--only to be hit by mortar fire and blown off a hill. Thank God he survived, not once but multiple incidents. Still with great pride, dad forged ahead...fighting for freedom. Grace was on Dad's side and he came home, but many of his friends didn't. The mental picture that lived with him after the war, never went away. What a price to pay...all for freedom.

I suppose my point of this soap box, is the flags this country has seen over it's 200+ years of history all represent men and women who went willingly into battle for the freedom we enjoy.

Sure, the flags in the photo were Confederate flags but the lives who stood behind them helped shape this country and bring her to the freedom she enjoys.

I can't pass a man or woman in uniform without sincerely offering them my gratitude. We are so fortunate to have faithful people who still believe in the values and freedom of this country.


We raised our American flag at the onset of the first Gulf war. This same flag has flown relentlessly on our front porch through every drop of rain, every ray of sun and every snow fall. It's never come down because our service men and women still serve in the rain, the snow and the heat.

Our flag is pretty worn, in fact, it's faded, tattered and fragile and I hated to retire it this week. Some said, give to to the Boy Scouts and they'll retire it properly. But I can't do that. In fact, I bought a special bag for my flag and today, I'm removing it from it's pole, folding it neatly and storing it in the bag. The new flag is beautiful and bright, but the old one still holds a great value to me. 24 years worth of honor for those who stand and those who have fallen for MY benefit.

Thank you soldiers! Every one of you. And thank you parents who sacrificed your babies. I pray that this country will go to her knees and pray and that God will hear us and heal us. We've become somewhat perverted in our thoughts. But I have hope. I have faith. I believe in Christ and in His blessings on the freedom we maintain.

No, to me...freedom is not cliche! What about you?

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Something to Say

I just returned from my third writers conference in a month...logged about 7000 miles from the east coast to the Rockies and back to the mid-west. I found myself interviewing hundreds of potential authors, but all WRITERS! It seemed a little unfair that so many have such deep dreams to write but only a handful have a passion.

Writing is hard. It's not the glorious avenue some tend to think it is, rather it's a lonely place to reside. We close ourselves in a room, sometimes smaller than an jail cell and only talk to our imagination. In a way, we're a reclusive bunch.
But what I've discovered in this past month of travel and teaching is that these writers, whether their passion is deep or not, all seem to bear one thing in mind. That is, their love for Christ.

We all have stories to tell..some of us far more gifted at telling than others. (Seasoned writers would say, SHOW don't TELL), others and speak their tale but need someone else to write it. Still, the reigning truth is...the writers I saw all love Christ.

Their zeal to learn the craft of writing is strong, their willingness to be shown their flaws--amazing. And most would say, "Why would you go to a place where folks criticize what you love to do?" And again I remind you of their deep love of Christ.

There's a world of difference in a Christian Writers Conference and a Secular Writers Conference...and though the market is equally as tough in both venues, the love of their fellow writers supersedes the competitiveness of the market. Once again, the prominent difference -- Christ.

I've been to both types of conferences, seen the way writers are perceived and treated, and I can say without hesitation, there is a marked difference in the two.


I spoke to a man who'd attended a secular conference in Ohio, he sat before me, tears in his eyes as he slipped a page of his writing into my hand. The prose was beautiful, the thoughts well constructed, the writing mechanics pristine and when I patted his hand and complimented his work - he sobbed.

At bit taken back, I apologized. I didn't know what else to do. Here sat a football player-sized man, blubbering like a baby. What do you do other than apologize? I tried to ignore his tears and continue with the interview, pointing out spots that especially touched me as I read. Oh there was a couple of things he could had polished - but we all know writing is subjective. Over all, his work was excellent. When I'd finished talking, he swiped the tears from his cheeks and said, "You saw the passion of Christ in the work. Thank you. At the secular conference, editors tore apart the subject matter, slashed away my words calling them trite. But you saw the passion of Christ."

I realized at that moment the defining point of being a Christian was not in calling myself a Christian but in that deep-rooted passion of example. The encouragement Christ offered to us, we can offer to others and the result...is a changed life.

When the conference was ending, this man met me outside the main conference hall and walked with me. He nudged against my shoulder and remarked, "I told my wife about your gentleness, about your encouragement. And I told her that I was ready to quit. Give up. I took the last of our savings to come here, searching for something. I wasn't sure it was publication, I think it was simply encouragement...hope. And I found that in you."


Now, I'm not the greatest Christian in the world. I'm full of flaws if you look deep enough, but I definitely related to this man's remark. Because we all need encouragement, validation that the efforts we make are important. Even if they may not be, well written...the effort, the attempt to follow a story that Christ has placed in their hearts is so VERY, VERY important.

Sure, some of us are better at it than others, and there are some who should just hand their story over to a writer who can do it for them, but the fact remains, the passion of the obedience to make the attempt. Who are we to fail to encourage? Who are we to slam and tear apart the story God has placed in the hearts of others?

Our responsibility is to be honest with compassion. To guide, not destroy. To encourage not discourage. Just as Christ did.

There in....lays the passion.

A writer once said, "Don't write just for the sake of writing. Write if you have something to say."

I have mixed feelings about that remark because some of us journal our stories the best our untrained talents allow. But we all have something to say, we all have stories and it's up to us to listen.


My friend, Alton Gansky said, "When you write for God you need to understand your work may never be found in the pages of a book on the Lifeway Bookstore shelves, but it may only be meant for the guy sitting next to you." Now THAT, my friends is true encouragement. It's truth spoken in love and nestled between the love of Christ and encouragement. I wrote that down. It hangs on my computer so that I am reminded daily WHO I write for and that I understand it's okay to pursue a dream of being published as long as I continually work to hone the craft, but that even my best work may only be meant for the guy sitting next to me.

In other words, I have a story to tell...I have something to say and when I say it the best way I know how, then God will work with that. Does that mean to do shotty work? ABSOLUTELY NOT--it's my responsibility to learn the craft well! But it puts into perspective what the truth is.

So my thoughts are: We all have something to say. What is important to me may not be important to a publisher but it may move the person sitting in the pew next to me. Who knows how God works? But I care...don't you?

I received a devotion from a PhD recently. Her devotion submission had great content but academia screamed from the page. So I called her. We chatted and I guided her toward listening to her heart. Her devotion really did have great value...it just needed to be tweaked so that the average Joe could understand the message. When we were done, she said, "Why didn't you just toss this in the rejection pile? Kill it. What did you see in this devotion that made you willing to call me? I was stunned.

"I pray that God will give me eyes of purity when I read. That He will show me the message and not allow me to judge the message on the writing. And then that He will lead me to helping you find the message yourself." That's the truth. That's what I do. That's what God has called ME to do.

Work at being an encourager not a destroyer. Your encouragement might take a poor writer and spur them into greatness. But more so, it may take a message hidden in the rough and spring it across the world.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference 2010

Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference 2010


I love the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference. I walked into the Lobby of Ridgecrest in May, 2003 for the first time. Nervous, alone, but determined to learn the craft of writing, I checked into the hotel.

Funny enough, I made my way to a group of chairs and sat down to catch my breath. My arms covered in poison ivy, I looked like I should be in a leper colony rather than at a writers conference. A beautiful brunette sat in the chair next to me. I smiled. And as she eyed my arms, a giant grin crossed her lips.

"I'm just itching to know your name! Let me get out a pen and scratch your name in my notebook." She raised her brow and winked.

For a second, I hesitated, then burst into laughter. That was my first friend at a conference...Gina Holmes. I still love her to bits. Three years running we shared fond memories at Blue Ridge. Then God spoke to Gina and she started Novel Journey. Next month, she debuts her first novel, Crossing Oceans.

That's what happens when you go to writers conferences. God speaks to you and if you're open, He hands out assignments. He handed me a ministry partner, Eddie Jones, and ChristianDevotions.us. And every year we meet at Ridgecrest and walk the mountain because that's where God speaks to us.

I'm blessed this year. Early retirement, walking on faith, an awesome ministry, two radio shows, publication dangling in the future, and I still can't wait to get back to Blue Ridge...to see who of my friends have snatched a hold of the golden rope and swung into the realms of "published."

I've met some of Christian writing's most elite writers and I'm fortunate to call them my friends all because I launched out on faith and went to the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference.

Perhaps you can't make it to Ridgecrest in May...maybe you're afraid, worried about the money (it does cost a little to attend), or maybe you think it's too far to travel. Well, DON'T!

I've said before:
Little faith is hoping God will do what He says,
Big faith is believing God will do what He says,
But great faith....Great faith is knowing God has already done
what He said He'd do!

Have great faith. Look in your heart and search for your dream. If it's writing...believe it's NOT silly...but a gift from God, then step out. Go. Let God do what He promises.

Check out the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer's Conference at www.lifeway.com

Meet God on the mountain!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Doug Varrieur 700 Club Interview

Listen to fellow author Doug Varrieur on the 700 Club about his book FAT TO SKINNY

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What's in a Daisy?

He loves me...He loves me not....He loves me....He loves me not! I found myself staring at color photo of a field of daisies. I love daisies. They're my favorite and last summer my husband and I were in Gatlinburg, TN hiking through the Smokies and we ran upon this field of daisies in Cades Cove. It was breathtaking. I was on my hands and knees snapping close-ups, far aways, and upside downs of the petaled wonders. I wanted to remember them.

It seems when I was a child, daisies were everywhere. They bloomed all summer everywhere--along the streets, the highways, in the fields, around barns and houses. The white petals were always a lasting summer treat when everything else had faded. But I've noticed in the last several years, they're becoming a rarety.

As I looked past the photo on the wall and out the window, white powder dripped from the sky...something else that's been a rarity in our area for some time. I had to wonder, where's the simple pleasures of life going? They're fading. Just like the stories about our children that make us laugh.

I recall my best friend Marty telling me about her 5 year old, Wendy. Marty was pregnant and cleaning the bathroom when the the faucet on the tub stuck and she couldn't get the shower turned off. The door bell rang and it was the area minister dropping in for a visit. When Marty told him what was going on, he ran to the bathroom and tried to help shut down the shower.

In the meantime, the phone rang -- figures...only when you're in the middle of disaster. So Marty hears her 5 year old answer the phone.

"Uh huh. Mommy's here. (pause) Uh, huh, you can talk to her but she can't come to the phone right now. (pause) Because she's in the shower with the preacher."

My friend says to this day, she still doesn't know who called but she was sure her 5-year-old started a conspiracy that shook the walls of the church for years to come.

Those are the moments we cherish. The moments we seem to lose touch with as the world continually speeds ahead. Little things like catching a snowflake on your tongue or plucking the petals of a daisy...he loves me, he loves me not.

The older I get the more I hold tight to these moments. The more I cling to the scent of my infant sons as they lay naked against my chest sleeping. The soft feel of their tiny feet and the sweet taste of their pudgy fingers when I kissed them. Ah...those moments.

What's in a daisy. Easy enough. Each petal holds the hope of the Father because on His daisies there are not "loves me not" petals. Regardless of the whir of the passage of time, I'm blessed to have the memories of a quieter time nestled in my heart, caught in a breath of a photo, or through the here today, gone in a few hours bit of snow. Every moment is filled with joy. Believe it or not, the wisdom of age even mellows the bad memories and allows me to reflect on the good instead.

It won't be long. Nope, not long at all, until the daisies are peeking through the ground, lifting their heads in worship to the Creator who designed each petal.

What's in a daisy? The undeserved love of the Father. Free for the picking and as long lasting as the seasons.

Friday, February 12, 2010

There's Glory in That!


I got scared today! I'd transferred the last of the ministry money from the savings to the checking. Still looking at over $1000 of expenses in the next three months... I got scared. I'd prayed with a friend about the provisions needed for the ministry, even asked if I was being sinful in my fear. She reminded me Satan lobs fear in our faces to hide the face of God and we had to forge past. Knees shaking, I headed to the bank the next morning. The checking account said $8.00.

$8.00!

Our ministry savings account had $350. Transfer $300 from savings to checking and then pray God provides, I thought. The clerk, sensing my apprehension, patted my hand, "He'll provide."

Sure He will, I thought to myself.

I headed to the car teary-eyed and asked my husband to stop by the post office to check the ministry mail. I slipped my key into the PO Box and twisted. "God you gotta provide!"

Pulling open the door, a long white envelope lay tilted to one side. I smiled and tore open the envelope. A check for $300 stared back at me. I'd held on to that last $300 in our ministry savings for an emergency. I'd gone to the bank fully intending to add my personal money to the kitty. Instead, I trusted God and moved $300 from savings to checking.

Why was I so surprised that God had provided the exact amount we needed when I had let loose and trusted?

I still don't know where the remaining $1000+ funds will come from, but I'm sure God has already figured it out. I'm certain He tapping His toes, waiting for me to trust Him for provision. If I can trust Him with our finances, I can trust everything thing else.

Including my life.

All too often, God makes me wait. In fact, sometimes He reeks havoc on my ulcer because I'm a sinful worrier. It's how I'm wired.

Eddie and I wrote today's He Said, She Said devotions on John 11:4-6.

"When he heard this, Jesus said, 'This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it.' Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days."


This verse struck Eddie on the illness part...but me...it was all about the glory. It was all about God making me wait, just like Jesus made Mary and Martha wait. He knew the ultimate outcome and He wasn't in a hurry. Ya see, that's monumental to me because I expect an answer before it's too late. I'm a
Mary and Martha. And when I pray and pray and God doesn't show, I'm a little hurt and a lot disappointed. The thing is I'm learning about the glory of God and how to GLORIFY God. It's not about me. It's about Him and how the situation will bring glory and witness to God the Father.

I've always joked that Jesus was a dawdler. And He was. When You're God incarnate, when you have the inside spoof on the plan, then what's another day or two? Nothing! Lazarus died, and then HE DIDN'T. And had Jesus come prior to his death, the impact wouldn't have been near as amazing.

Jesus finally showed, Lazarus was revived, Mary and Martha probably danced a jig, but more than anything else, God was glorified by the wait.

So I sigh. My stomach hurts a little. I sniff and tear up because I'm amazed by the glory and frightened by the wait. Regardless, God knows what He's doing and makes no bones about proving Himself either.

When I turn
ed loose of the tiny savings the ministry had...when I took it out and handed it over to God, literally within minutes He provided. He doubled the money.

When I handed the check over to the teller she asked if I wanted the money in savings (after she squealed "Wickedly cool!!!) and I didn't hesitate.

"No way! You don't save God's money. You spend it where He says." I've since paid down a couple of the ministry bills but there's still more to come. And even though I'm a little scared as I fight this spiritual warfare, you need to know, I've not looked at the on-line banking so I don't know the balance. God will provide. He always, ALWAYS does.

Yep, that pr
ovision story happened to me so it's safe for me to say, "There's glory in that!"

Check out the book. You'll be glad if you do. I encourage you to buy it, read it then leave it on someone's seat. Let them read it. Leave a note in it and tell that reader to read the book then leave it in yet another place for someone else to read. It's not about selling books, it's about spreading God's word. Faith and FINANCES: In God We Trust (A Journey to Financial DEPENDENCE).
It's pretty cool when God takes hold of your money.
www.faithandfinances.us
Send me your comments and stories of how God has blessed you when you released your finances to Him.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

So God Does Speak...right?



Yesterday I walked the path in the prayer garden at Ridgecrest, NC. I love this place...regardless of the season. I've walked it in the spring rain, the summer heat, the fall foilage and now, I've walked it in winter's blanket.




I stepped over the mound of snowand walked onto the covered bridge. Wow. What I saw was the most amazing thing...I somehow felt like John trying to explain heaven.


The snow blanketed the ground, snuggling tight around the trees and inching close to the creekbed. The water's voice echoed off the wall of white. And I wondered. Does God speak?



A misty rain fell around me and as the water dripped from the fingers of the trees, it was as though God had shed tears for me and frozen them in time. I could see not only the beauty of His tears but the evidence that He longs for me...misses me when I fail to show.

A squirel burrowed into the depths of the powder searching for a nibble and I wondered if God speaks?

Today, I walked the garden with my friend. The snow had frozen and as we walked the it crunched, grabbing at our feet, holding to our every step. And when we sat to pray my questions were answered.

With each phrase my friend spoke, each need he lifted before the Father, the ice that clung to the trees cracked and dropped to the ground. The sound, whispered the voice of God.
"God provide.." and the financial bonds split and slid to the ground.

"God give us discernment and wisdom..." again, a split and ice slipped from the trees splashing into the rush of the stream.

"God lead us. Let us glorify your name, please you in our efforts..." a rain of tiny pellets fell from the tree tops.

"Shhhh," I said. "Listen."

At that moment, I knew God had spoke to us. For with each request He tore away the bonds of fear, the chains of worry and cuffs of concern.
God does speak. In fact, I imagine He screams occassionally. I love to listen for His voice in the demanding forces of the thunder or in the tender whisper of a falling leaf. Each sound I hear reveals an attribute of the Father who loves us more than life itself. I know this because He died for us.

I've learned God never stops speaking rather, I sometimes play life way too loud in my head and it drowns His voice. When I learn to turn down the volume, just like today in the garden ....He speaks clearly.

Shhhh. Listen. Can you hear?

















Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Who is it about?

I've been blessed to know a writer of amazing talent. The gifts this writer possessed came from deep within their soul and the words that streamed from their pen often brought readers to tears.

I was amazed at the lives that were touched, even changed by the extreme care they took in crafting the words, weaving the healing powers of Christ in and out of their sentences.

My desire to be a writer has been a life long dream. I think for most who love writing, the same is true...it began as a child with the shear love of the feel of a book in their hands. And though I have a God given talent, it doesn't come easy. Words don't just "flow" from my head onto the page. Writing for me, is difficult and daunting. But I love it.

So every time I sit at my computer to write, I ask God, "What are we gonna write today? Use the words." When I began writing devotions six years ago, it started as a 30 day venture to help members of our church develop a habit of spending time with God in study.

Over and over, well meaning people said, "You can't keep this up. It's too hard. You'll run out of ideas." I chose not to look at time, rather to look at the world around me..to look for God in everything. After all, He is everything. How could I possibly run out of material? The bigger challenge was not that I would run out of things to write but could I maintain the discipline to write His words every day? Could I teach myself to pray EVERY SINGLE DAY and to never let that slip?

Six years later, I'm still writing devotions. I still get up every morning and write my prayers because during that time of development my love of God grew into a hunger that I craved. I'm still learning to deepen this relationship with Him.

Who'd have ever imagined that God would take the words I write and use them in a ministry. Use me as a tool to bring others who write to the forefront. Spread His word. Who'd have thought He'd match me with an unlikely ministry partner who's become my dearest friend and brother?

Every word we write is a blessing from the Father. Every person alive is made in the image of this Father and gifted individually with unique talents and gifts. God is not a slouch...His attributes stream across every medium and we're all blessed with something that will glorify the Kingdom. The hard part is ignoring the lies that Satan whispers. "You can't do that, you're not talented." or "That's not a gift...it's stupid."

And even harder is, the success of the gift -- crediting God and meaning it. Keeping our heart pure of the greed of success and allowing the words He's given us to be untainted from selfishness.

My writer friend , lost track of the gift. The success of talent overcame the heart of the crafter and glory shifted from the Father to the child. The words that are written are still beautiful, heartfelt words, but heart is different. And though they may be successful, and folks may ooo and haaa over them, the words that once drove home a deep intimate message of love, now fill the pages with emptiness.

My words may never fill the pages of a book on a shelf, I hope they do, but they may not. But what I pray is that the relationship I am forging with the Father is stronger than the hype of success. Should my words hit the pure white pages of a book, will they always show the crimson of His blood...and will they always be HIS words for HIS glory, to be used HIS way.

Who knows if I can manage that task. But I pray daily I can. I may fail--fall into the trap that Satan lays. I hope not.

My friend's book tells an awesome story of love and redemption, but the heart is gone.

When you write...write with the passion of the Christ who gave you everything including your words. Pray faithfully that it will always be about HIM not us. Who are your words written for?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Life Lessons - Shesh!

I received an email from an old high school friend. She let me know she'd run into yet another "old high school" friend. Just so happens, he was my first boyfriend. (Ah, young love!) She sent his email address asked me to contact him. So I did. Sent him an email.

To my surprise, he answered. It's always neat renewing old friendships. I was amazed at the details of our friendship he remembered. Always the sweet guy, he found his way to greener pastures and I was left behind.

We chatted awhile, caught one another up on kids, and life choices and though he sounded okay, there was a sense of loneliness about him. I thought about the times I've felt that same loneliness, especially when I look over some of the decisions I'd made through the years. I thought I'd thought them through. But I imagine, I like most, suffered the effects of decisions made from immaturity.

It was C. S. Lewis who said, "Experience is a brutal teacher and my God, we learn. My God, we learn." Wise man, that Mr. Lewis.

We've all made choices that cost us. Things that look good at the time but prove to be massive mistakes in the aftermath, but that's where the life lessons come into play. What's the old saying, "Live and learn?"

My old friend had a sense of sadness about him with the decisions he'd made in the past. Awe, he didn't say the words, "I made a mistake" but hinted at the loneliness of his past. It was apparent.

The life lessons we learn come as a result of our choices. And though they don't always have an immediate effect, they eventually catch up to us. I've learned over the years--taken my share of life lumps, but I've always tried to look into my mistakes and find the "good" part of the lesson as well.

Christ must have wondered about His decision to carry the cross to Calvary. There had to be a point, when beaten beyond human recognition, that He wondered why? We can only assume to think He had 2nd thoughts. I don't think He did. But I had to wonder if Christ knew His suffering would be in vain for some. For those who refuse to look at His life lessons, at His example.

He paid the price for us--didn't regret it either. Instead He pleaded for our forgiveness. It's still hard to wrap your head around. Isn't it?

It was nice talking to an old friend--rethinking the choices I'd made as a teen. Reviewing the direct decisions that moved my life or halted it. I hope my friend finds peace and happiness. I hope he gets past the decisions he's made in the past. In the mean time, I'll think on life lessons I've learned and the roads that I could have taken, but didn't.

I'm fortunate. Fortunate to recognize the experiences of my past shoved me straight into the arms of Christ. C. S. Lewis was right. "Experience is a brutal teacher. My God how we learn." My God, how you teach me.