Stumbling Block or Stepping Stone

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Earlier this week I read an anonymous quote, “The difference between a stumbling block and a stepping stone is how you use it.” I love this quote. An easy life does not translate into a well-lived life.
Would you consider the loss of a job a stumbling block or stepping stone? My job loss led me to a new career which I love more than anything I could have imagined. Of course, I was terrified, but that fear drove me to my knees and to a closer relationship with God.

The loss of my mother was one of my biggest stumbling blocks. I was angry and acting like a child having a temper tantrum. Mom’s untimely death left me reeling. I’d lost my anchor. It took many months for me to realize I had hold of the wrong anchor. Only Jesus can save me.

A friend recently shared with me about her battle with depression. She has turned what could have been a stumbling block into a stepping stone for helping others who suffer from the same condition. Check out www.servingjoyfully.com. Would you consider a difficult diagnosis a stumbling block or a stepping stone? The choice is yours.

I’m on a journey, and so are you. I pray that you will find a way to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones that lead you to God’s plan. Because there’s no doubt, God has a plan for you. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11.

#stumblingblock #steppingstone #overcomingtrials

A Place Called Hope by Philip Gulley

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Philip Gulley’s A Place Called Hope made me laugh out loud so many times my husband looked up from his football game and asked, “What are you reading?” The book is funny but also has a serious side. Mr. Gulley bravely broaches a sensitive issue in the Christian community and caused me to consider my own stance. I decided that perhaps I should focus more on loving my neighbor than judging my neighbor. I was cheering for Sam when he said, “I tell you Mom, I’m tired of this nonsense. If the meeting wants to fire me for praying for two women, so be it. I’m not sure I want to even pastor a meeting where that would be an issue.” I have always liked Sam Gardner and his patient wife Barbara. Those who enjoy stories with small-town charm will enjoy A Place Called Hope. I’ll have to forgive Mr. Gulley for his old-fashioned description of Ms. Ruby, the town librarian. However, I must admit I laughed so hard my side ached as I read the passage. If you have not read the Harmony Series, start with Home to Harmony.
#philipgulley #aplacecalledhope

Book Review

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Jan Karon returns her readers to the charming town of Mitford. Reading Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good reminds me of a homecoming. Ms. Karon’s fans are reconnected with old friends: Esther Cunningham, Harley Welch, Winney Ivey, Hessie Mayhew, Coot Hendricks, Puny and JoJo Guthrie, Hope and Scott Murphy, Dooley, Lace, and many more. We also meet new characters: Vanita, Irene, Kim, and Shirlene. If you have not read The Mitford Series, don’t start with this book. You must begin with At Home in Mitford and enjoy the series because you might be confused by the long cast of characters.

The author allows us to see Father Tim’s imperfections and struggles with retirement, irritating habits of friends, and the frustration of mentoring the sullen Sammy. I loved getting to know more about Dooley’s brothers, Kenny and Sammy. There’s a mystery, a scandal, a romance and a coming together as “Mitford takes care of its own.” Library patrons complained they missed Mitford when Ms. Karon wrote of Holly Springs and Ireland. Mitford fans will love Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good.

#Mitford, #JanKaron #Bookreview

Divine Appointments

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I often ask God for signs.  Remember, I’m like Gideon, the least of my tribe. Who am I to write one book? Who am I to travel to Africa on mission trips? I was exhausted and overwhelmed at the ACFW conference. Time and again, God has confirmed that I am to write stories for him, but in my weakness, I began to doubt my calling for missions in Africa. I prayed, God, am I supposed to be a writer and go on mission trips to Africa. I can’t do both, unless it’s your will. It’s too much.

I’m scheduled to travel to Kenya on a mission trip in August, 2015. I made this commitment in December 2013. Is this something I chose to do or was it something God wanted me to do?  Let’s be honest, writing and mission trips are time-consuming, expensive activities.

Sometimes it takes a while for God to answer our prayers, but this time it happened the next day when he arranged my lunch companion. I met Shirley Gould, a servant of God, who spent fourteen years serving as a missionary in Kenya with her husband.  With over 500 conference attendees, I was amazed to have been connected, with Shirley.  It was a busy conference, so Shirley and I exchanged cards and promised to email each other.

The next day at lunch, I looked up, and Shirley was pulling out a chair to my right. We had more time to talk, and I discovered Shirley is originally from Texas, but today she lives in Cross Plains, TN (about 20 minutes from my home). We ascertained her daughter lives about 2 miles from my house. I remember praying, Thank you Father for answered prayer.

Have you ever had a divine appointment?

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:15

ACFW Conference in St. Louis: Gateway to Publishing (Maybe)

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I apologize for starting my post with a cliché, but I can’t help myself. God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called. When God asked me to write a book, I was terrified and embarrassed to tell anyone.  I’m a librarian, and I know that it takes more than a gift to become an accomplished writer. It takes years of hard work.

One morning, after months of stalling, I committed to writing the story God gave me. That same day I opened my email, and it included an invitation to attend a Christian Writers’ conference at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas. It was the first and only invitation I had ever received to attend a writers’ conference. I listed all the reasons I couldn’t attend, but my husband insisted I go.

I met author Judy Christie at the Texas conference, who connected me with my editor, Jamie Chavez. Judy also encouraged me to find a writers group. Thanks to Google, I found Middle Tennessee Christian Writers where I met published author Kaye Dacus and other writers. It was through Kaye I found American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

Last week I attended the ACFW conference with a long list of needs. The first prayer request was for a mentor. God blessed me with three. I travelled to St. Louis with three amazing writers: Krista Phillips, Liz Johnson and Carol Award winner, Patrick Carr.

An overwhelming task I face is to build a web following. God supplied me with a critique partner who also has expertise in this area. Crystal Brothers is a talented blogger with over 10,000 followers. Check out her blog at  www.servingjoyfullly.com. Crystal didn’t hesitate to offer her talents to help me grow my platform.

I prayed over the conference program and asked my Bible study group to do the same. God gave me every appointment for which I asked, and the results are that two major publishers asked me to send my manuscript, and three top agents ask me to send a proposal.

A few months ago, an agent asked me what known author might endorse my book.  My writing friends write in different genres. I wondered, How am I supposed to get a big name author to endorse my book? I asked God to arrange a meeting, and he did. At the awards banquet, which was attended by over 500 authors, the seat to my right was filled by our keynote speaker, Lauraine Snelling. Ms. Snelling has published over 70 books. I held my breath. I couldn’t believe I was going to spend the next two hours sitting with her. At the end of the banquet, she asked me to send her secretary a copy of my manuscript. If she likes it, she’ll endorse it.  I know that’s a big “if” but I serve a big God.

May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal encouragement and good hope by grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17.

I am on an amazing journey, and I am thankful to God that he hears my prayers. I pray that everything I say or do may glorify Him. I often wonder why he chose me. And I’m reminded of Gideon. “He was the least of his tribe.” I am the least, but God is the greatest.

#ACFW #LauraineSnelling #Patrickcarr #KristaPhillips #Lizjohnson #servingjoyfully

A Closed Fist Cannot Receive

Hands joined together with glow light

On Sunday, our minister, Jerry Gifford said, “You can’t give or receive with a closed fist.”  He was speaking about tithing and also on sharing our spiritual gifts. Do you ever feel as if the preacher is speaking directly to you?

On Monday night my Bible study group reviewed week six of Beth Moore’s “Children of the Day,” and page 156 was on the same topic. She wrote, “To find your niche, go meet some needs. There’s no end to them. Students need tutors. Shut-ins need visitors. Sick people need someone to pick up their medicine. Demoralized people need someone to listen. Pastors need encouragement before they pass out or pass on….”

There’s a little voice in my head that said “You’re so busy.” And then it said, “You do enough.” Do you think it was God telling me this? I don’t think it was him.

What’s your gift? I hope I’m an encourager and never one who discourages. I hope this post encourages my pastor. At least I was listening. Perhaps Beth Moore will be encouraged that she made me think.  Open your hands friends and let’s give and so that we may receive. Oh, I almost forgot the most important part. Do so with a joy. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against these things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22. I hope you discover your gifts and use them produce fruit.  May God make us worthy of his calling.

Inspired by:
1 Peter 4:10 -11 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength of God supplies – in order that in everything God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 Now there are a varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good  and every work of faith by his power.”

#spiritual gifts, #givingback, #childrenoftheday

Hidden Talents

Web on grass. Spider on a web. Dew on a web. Solar morning.

If God has given the tiny spider the gift to create such beauty, imagine the talents he’s hidden inside of you. You were created in His image.

Inspired by Genesis 1:27.

#dailyinspiration

Compassionate Heart

Kindness Words in Sky Compassionate Generous Background

I pray today for a compassionate heart — that my thoughts and actions demonstrate kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. When others hurt me, may God give me the heart to forgive them, just as he has forgiven me.  His love fills me with peace and I am thankful.

       Inspired by Colossians 3:12-14

#compassionateheart

Drink in the Glory of the Lord

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Drink in the glory of the Lord

Fill yourself with His word

Pour out your heart and receive him

And blessings will overflow

Shine His light brightly

As a beacon of hope to others

And may the peace that only God gives

Fill you forevermore.

       By Shelia Stovall

“Not Cancer”

shelia 

Last Sunday I opened the previous day’s mail to discover a report from my latest mammogram. “Your recent mammography examination showed a finding that requires additional imaging studies for a complete evaluation. Most such findings are benign (not cancer.)” I have a sister and an aunt who are cancer survivors. The letter said, “not cancer,” but all I could see was, “CANCER.”

 After my second mammogram on Tuesday afternoon, my husband sat with me in a small curtained room awaiting the results, and something unexpected happened.  The radiologist reported that my second mammogram was completely normal. I don’t know what happened to the “finding that might be benign. “  Was it a miracle or was it human error? I’ll let you decided. But I thank God for the good results, and I am thankful for my Bible study group who prayed over me.

 I would worry and say aloud, “I will put on the full armor of God: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and as shoes for my feet, the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In every circumstance, I will hold up the shield of faith and extinguish those flaming darts of the evil one.  I will wear the helmet of salvation, hold fast to the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. I will pray all day in the Spirit.” And I would experience peace. After a while, I’d start to worry again, and then I’d repeat the scripture again and peace would follow. Whatever issue you are facing, God has it covered, and as a dear friend reminded me, “God is bigger than cancer,” and He’s bigger than anything you are facing.

Ephesians 6:10-18

#notcancer