Monday, August 12, 2019

Zach Williams - No Longer Slaves (Live from Harding Prison)

I'm no longer a slave to fear. We all have fears, and I find this song so powerful.

Here are a few scriptures on fear:

Joshua 1:9 New International Version
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Matthew 6:34 New International Version "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Psalm 23:4 New International Version "Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me."

And another beautiful verse is Psalm 34:4 New International Version "I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears."

How amazing is that? If you struggle with fear, open your Bible and be comforted.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

El Paso Challenge

After the El Paso shooting, Ruben Martinez challenged others in his community to remember the victims with acts of kindness. What an amazing challenge, but the thing that makes it more interesting is that Ruben is only eleven years old.

This child is daring us to honor the victims. At first the challenge was to do twenty acts of kindness. It's risen to twenty-two acts of kindness today. These are not random acts of kindness. I feel like we are to be intentional in performing these acts.

If you need help coming up with ideas, Ruben has some to share. Mow a yard, visit a nursing home, pay for someone's lunch or dinner, donating for families in need, taking flowers to the hospital, or writing a letter to someone telling them how great they are.

If we perform twenty-two acts of kindness, I think we'll want to keep performing acts of kindness. Wouldn't it be great if Ruben's challenge made the world a better place?

I know nothing about Ruben's faith, but I do know he's a child. A child of God. He's important to God, his family, me, and the world.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
Matthew 18:1-5

People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Luke 18:15-17

Monday, August 5, 2019

Desk Update

I continue to find better ways to be productive and more efficient. The What's Best Next study inspired me to become better organized.

One of the biggest things I got out of What's Best Next for my life as an author, is to schedule my writing time in blocks. For instance, I'll write for say two hours. During those two hours, I don't check social media. I don't rotate laundry or start preparing dinner. I use the block of time to focus on my work in progress.

I also discovered I'm more alert in the mornings and late at night. I know this doesn't make sense, and I've decided to choose mornings as my writing time. I believe it's healthier for me to get up early and work while the sun is up.

In the early afternoon I struggle with drowsiness. So, I'm not going to feel guilty making myself coffee in the afternoon. I may even go for a short walk to energize myself. Then I'll write for another block of time.

In order to help keep my desk organized, I created two more work spaces in my office where I can spread out research and my vision board.

Matt Perman's philosophy is if we're more productive with our work, we'll have more time to do good for others. He says, “The biblical call on our lives is not to do good randomly and haphazardly. Rather, God calls us to be proactive in doing good — even to the point of making plans for the good of others.”

Philippians 2:3-4 says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."

To sum it all up, if I'm more productive with my work, I'll have more time to help others.

So, did I get my desk organized? It's better. Not perfect, but better. My dad has some funny quotes. One of them is, "I can find anything in three tries." And he always does find what he's looking for.

Monday, July 29, 2019

What Does It Mean to Love Mercy?

The prophet Micah tells us what the Lord desires from His people:
"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8, New International Version).

Maybe we should start by defining mercy. According to Merriam Webster mercy is:

1a : compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power
also : lenient or compassionate treatment
begged for mercy
b : imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder
2a : a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion
May God have mercy on us.
b : a fortunate circumstance
it was a mercy they found her before she froze
3 : compassionate treatment of those in distress
works of mercy among the poor

Okay. Got it. But what does it mean to love mercy? I think "compassionate treatment of those in distress," a an act of loving mercy. We may have the right to punish or harm a person, instead we forgive and show compassion. This is mercy.

Let's dig deeper. Real mercy has an element of sacrifice. I've always been impressed when family members can forgive a person for murdering a loved one.

In Micah, God's word is clear that we are to love mercy.

If we want to see a picture of what mercy looks at, we can open our Bibles. Time after time God shows mercy to mankind. Old Testament and New Testament stories or parables touch on mercy.

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36, NIV).

Titus 3:5 NIV says, "he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit..."

Sometimes, it's easier to show mercy than other times. If this cutie did something wrong, it'd be easy for me to show her mercy. How could I not show her mercy.

No matter what the situation though, God expects us to show mercy. I'd love to hear your stories of mercy. Thanks!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Sherrinda Ketchersid

Today I'm excited to introduce you to my dear friend, Sherrinda Ketchersid. We met online years ago and are part of a critique group. The first time I met Sherrinda face-to-face was at an ACFW conference in Dallas. I was so nervous, and she was so gracious! She will always be special to me.

Sherrinda Ketchersid is a lover of stories with happily-ever-after endings. Whether set in the
past or present, romance is what she writes and where her dreams reside. Sherrinda lives in
north-central Texas with her preacher husband. With four grown children, three guys and a gal,
she has more time and energy to spin tales of faith, fun, and forever love.

Sherrinda had her first book published this year, Lord of Her Heart. It's a historical love story, and I asked Sherrinda a few questions.

How did you become interested in historical fiction? Have you always been a history buff?
I love historical fiction because I can escape into a different world easier than in contemporary. I love knowing that people in years past experienced the same struggles with faith, love, and ... well, everything. Also, my dad loved the time period for its chivalry, and I can remember coloring pictures he drew of knights and fair maidens (He is an artist as well as an author.).

Is trust the central theme in this story?
It's funny, but I didn't write the story with that theme in mind. Originally, I wanted to convey a sense of belonging, which was illustrated by Jocelyn's desire to return home to her family. But as the story unfolded, it was clear that trust was a major theme throughout. Not only trust in God but learning to trust each other in the journey.

How long have you been writing?
I've been writing for about ten years. Lord of Her Heart is my first novel and I worked on it a couple of years. I set aside writing for about four year when I was convicted of making writing an idol in my life. It wasn't until 2016 when I felt God releasing me to write again.

What was your inspiration for Lady Ashburne? Inspiration for Malcolm Castillon?
I've never been asked this. I wanted a heroine who, even though she was scared, desired something strong enough to gather courage and go for something big. This is something I learned way too late in life. Courage is not the absence of fear, but doing something in spite of the fear. As for my hero, I just wanted a strong character - fierce, but kind and chivalrous.

Have you ever toured a real castle?
No! It is definitely on my bucket list. I told my husband not too long ago that for our 40th anniversary, I'd like to go to Scotland and see castles. That's only seven years away.

Do you have a favorite castle even if you haven't toured it?
I would love to visit the Elean Donan Castle in Scotland. It was built in the 13th century, not far from the time my stories are set. I love the water and mountain around it.

If money was not issue, what would be your favorite vacation?
Other than going to Scotland, my favorite vacations have been in Colorado. I love the mountains and cooler weather. I love small brooks winding through the valleys. I love staying in a cabin, taking hikes, and sitting on a porch during the occasional rain shower. It's a piece of heaven.

Sherrinda, I'm actually a beach girl, but I loved Colorado on my one trip there. I really felt close to God in the mountains.

Sherrinda, thanks for stopping by and sharing.

Here's a little about the book.

Book’s Tag Line
He’s fighting for his future—she’s running for her life.

Lady Jocelyn Ashburne suspects something is amiss at her family’s castle
because her father ceases to write to her. When she overhears a plot to
force her into vows—either to the church or a husband—she disguises
herself and flees the convent in desperation to discover the truth.
Malcolm Castillon of Berkham is determined to win the next tournament
and be granted a manor of his own. After years of proving his worth on
the jousting field, he yearns for a life of peace. Rescuing a scrawny
lad who turns out to be a beautiful woman is not what he bargained for.
Still, he cannot deny that she stirs his heart like no other, in spite
of her conniving ways.
Chaos, deception, and treachery threaten their goals, but both are
determined to succeed. Learning to trust each other might be the only
way either of them survives.

Both the cover and story are beautiful!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

TobyMac - I just need U.

Here are the beginning lyrics to I just need you.

"Last night put the heavy on me
Woke up and I'm feeling lonely
This world gotta a way of showing me (showing me)
Some days it'll lift you up
Some days it'll call your bluff
Man, most of my days I ain't got enough
And all I know
Is You're my only hope
When I'm up when I'm down (uh, huh)
When the wolves come around (tell me)
When my feet hit the ground
I just need, I just need You
On my darkest days (uh, huh)
When I'm losing faith (tell me)
No, it ain't gon' change
I just need you..."

Good days or bad days, I always know where my hope is. I hope you enjoy this song! Thanks for stopping by. 
Keep believing!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Career Expert says the Golden Rule is at the Heart of Creativity

What is the Golden Rule?  In Matthew 7:12 (NIV) we're told: "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."

I grew up knowing this rule. I recently began studying what's best next by Matt Perman with a good friend, Sherrinda Ketchersid. We began with the timeline of one chapter a week. We're learning so much that we now tackle one chapter a day. I've included a link if you're interested in learning a little more about Matthew Perman and what's best next

Have a great week!

Sherrinda Ketchersid

Setting Up Your Desk

Last week I mentioned I'd started reading what's best next by Matt Perman. I looked up his blog posts and found tips on setting up your desk for maximum effectiveness.

Here's a picture of my desk before. Printer, pens, highlighters, coffee, stapler, calendar, index cards, and you can see some of the other junk.

Matt Perman says clutter will take away our creativity. He suggests our desks should be like a cockpit.

I wasn't born an organized person. I often tried, but it doesn't come naturally to me. I have to WORK at getting and staying organized.

He suggests we know what we need as far as equipment, supplies, and decorations. I've combined decorations with supplies. I have a small crystal bowl for jump drives. I have cute containers for pens and highlighters and a pretty lamp on the corner of the table. The table I use for my desk was an old table my Uncle Proc made. My dad dug it out and refinished it. So it has sweet memories for me when I sit down.

As I continue working through what's best next, I'll let you know if I learn to decrease the clutter and work more efficiently.

Monday, July 1, 2019

How to Help the Homeless

A friend recently gave us a bag to share the next time we came across a homeless person asking for help.

I've heard the debate plenty of times. If you give them money, they'll buy beer. But if you give them money, at least you're trying to help. The argument goes back and forth. That's why I was excited when our friend gave us this bag of goodies the next time we were faced with the opportunity to share with a homeless person.

Matthew 25:34-40:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

What can we do for the least of these?

Here's one simple thing.

Take a gallon plastic bag and fill it with a few items.

A few easy items you can place in your bag are wipes, a fruit cup with a plastic fork, peanuts, a toothbrush and toothpaste, peanut butter cracker and breath mints, because we all like minty fresh breath.

Get creative and change it up.

I'd love to hear if you try this and what response you get.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Sea View Inn

We recently made our first trip to Sea View Inn in Pawleys Island, SC. We went to the inn for a Saturday morning breakfast. We arrived early and sat in rocking chairs on the covered porch and drinking good coffee and looking at the ocean.

When the dinner bell, or breakfast bell in our case, rang we walked inside through a sitting area full of comfortable furniture and books of shelves. From there we walked into a dining room full of good smells and wooden tables and chairs. Breakfast was served at 8:30 for all of the guests staying at the inn, and those of us who made reservations.

We were served toast, homemade jams, eggs, sausage, grits, pancakes, and fresh fruit. There was also cereal and yogurt available. It was all delicious, and the staff was very welcoming. We'll be sure to go back to Sea View Inn, and if you're in the area I'd encourage you to stop by and visit.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Pawleys Island Chapel

Pawleys Island Chapel sits on the actual island. From Memorial Day through Labor Day different ministers lead a non-secular church service at 10:00 every Sunday.

The chapel is also a popular place for scenic weddings where it overlooks the marsh. The land was donated by Dr. and Mrs. J.H. Porter. It originally stood in Georgetown, SC. In 1946 the chapel was dismantled, moved, and rebuilt on Pawleys Island. In 2005 the chapel underwent renovations including air conditioning.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.

Psalm 150:6

Monday, June 10, 2019

Taking Good Pictures

I'm starting to write a series with a photographer. It's also summer, when many of us take more pictures. So, today I thought I'd share some photo tips.

In the evening on the beach, we often see people taking family photos. The sun is gentle, and there is less squinting.

If you take pictures on your iPhone and want to balance your shot go to settings. Choose Camera and switch the Grid on. Then when you take your next picture, you can line it up with the grid before snapping.

This turns into this.

My kids taught me the next tip. But be sure you tap the screen of your smartphone before taking the picture. It'll help focus on your subject and improve lighting.

The last tip also comes from my kids. DON'T zoom in. It's better to get closer to your subject. Zooming can make your picture look blurry or grainy.

Whether you travel or stay home this summer, I hope you have a great time!

Monday, June 3, 2019

Caring for Military Families, Part Two

Rosalyn Carter once said, "There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers."

Caregivers need to allow themselves to take a break, or to accept help from others. Caregivers can get so absorbed in the person they are helping, they can lose their sense of self.

The days of summer are here, and the days are getting longer. Is there a caregiver you can offer to step in for and allow the person to enjoy a afternoon outside or an evening stroll?

Here are a few other tips we might try to help caregivers...

Listen. That's it. Spend time and listen to them.

Don't exclude the caregiver because they often decline your invitation.

Offer to run errands for the caregiver. Shop for groceries, take the pet to the vet, wash their car, or if they have children offer to take them to sports events or music lessons. Or just take their kids for a fun experience.

I'd love to hear other suggestions on how we can help military caregivers. Thanks for sharing!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Caring for Military Families, Part One

When Bob Dole was in Walter Reed Medical Center for treatment and released in 2012, Senator Elizabeth Dole founded the Elizabeth Dole Foundation.

During the hours and days Senator Dole spent at the medical center with her husband, she came to know many of our wounded warriors and their families. This led her to start the foundation to lift up the caregivers and family members of the wounded warriors. Part of her mission is to raise awareness.

Today's post is dedicated to raising awareness for the caregivers and their families.

I discovered just because a veteran looks like he or she is coping with life, there may be pain they are hiding. It's not always obvious the internal and external pain our veterans and their caretakers deal with every day.

In the U.S. there are more than 5.5 million caregivers. In a recent interview on TV, some were asked what they needed most. I heard over and over they needed time off. They love their spouse (or whatever family member they are caring for), but they need some time away.
Is this something we can do? Can we offer to stay with the veteran while the caregiver goes to a movie? Takes a weekend away?

Maybe we can cook a meal for these families, buy a tank of gas, or take them for ice cream.

Some of the caregivers feel isolated. That's one good thing about the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. They connect caregivers with others. They provide support on many different levels.

In South Carolina, there are only 49 caregivers signed up with the foundation. There are five Hidden Hero Cities:

Charleston, South Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

North Charleston, South Carolina

Sumter, South Carolina

These statistics tell me we need to help spread the word to caregivers. You are not alone. We are here to help, and many of us are ready to stand by you and offer support.

Check back for part two of Caring for Military Families.

Monday, May 20, 2019

A New Path

People are flocking to the beaches in South Carolina. It's getting to be a challenge to find parking places, but we found an out-of-the-way parking area the other night. It didn't look like other beach access points, so I even went to read the signs to verify it was legit.

Once we were satisfied, we found a path to the beach. It was a sandy path. No boardwalks or anything. Just sand.

We were making our way to the ocean, when I spotted a flag.

The more I explore beaches, the more aware I am of beach erosion. We could see walkways covered with sand by new sand dunes. Once you have a dune, you're not supposed to walk on it.

In this picture you can see the walkway from a home that is covered with sand.

These pictures are of the walkway on the other side of the new sand dune.

I haven't lived here long enough to know if the entire dune will one day shift and the covered walkway will be usable again.

Here is a close-up picture of the flag once we got closer to it.

I hope you all have an amazing week!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Flag of the Week

If you've ever seen an episode of Fixer Upper, you've probably seen this flag. I remember the first time I saw the Alico building.

Artemas R. Roberts helped finance the building of the Alico building, and construction began in 1910. It's located on the corner of Austin Avenue and Fifth Street and was the first skyscraper built in Texas. It remained the tallest building until 1922, but it's still the tallest in Waco. In my research I read that for entertainment, people in Waco would watch the construction of the building. I'm sure it was an amazing adventure.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Flag of the Week is Back

We survived our move, and I'm back to writing. I decided with summer upon us, it's time to return to Flag of the Week. I'm starting with Pawleys Island, South Carolina.

Pawleys Island is a barrier island. One side greets the Atlantic Ocean, and Pawleys Creek is on the other side. On the other side of the marsh is still Pawleys Island, but it's not an actual island. Many of the homes on the actual island date back to the 18th century when families visited to get relief from the heat.

We've taken many walks on the island and plan to take many more in the years to come. On a recent stroll, I spotted this flag.

Zach Williams - No Longer Slaves (Live from Harding Prison)

I'm no longer a slave to fear. We all have fears, and I find this song so powerful. Here are a few scriptures on fear: Joshua 1:...