Monthly Archives: November 2016

The Death of Pride and Friendship Reborn

lindsay-harrelBy Lindsay Harrel

I don’t think there’s much that hurts worse than the death of a friendship. Lost friendships leave us wondering what went wrong. They might leave us bitter, blaming someone else for the rejection and dejection we feel. They might make us regretful or give us low self-esteem.

Sometimes, the death of a friendship is a necessary thing, taking us away from a toxic person who was only poisoning our lives. But that certainly wasn’t the case for me.

Several years ago, I lost a lifelong friend. She and I had been going down separate paths for awhile, but I was too busy to see it. On the surface, I thought I was doing what I needed to maintain the relationship. But when I looked deeper, I saw that I had begun avoiding her because of some hurts I’d allowed to fester and grow into resentment.

That revelation didn’t come overnight. In fact, it took some time to accept my part in the “breakup.” Before that, it was so easy to blame her, to see how she’d twisted events to suit her, to see the hurt she inflicted on me by deciding I wasn’t worthy of her friendship anymore (my interpretation at the time).

So I became bitter and nasty toward her. Because of our circumstances, we still saw each other fairly frequently. I would tell myself to be cordial—but as I’m someone who wears my heart on my sleeve, it was too difficult a task for me to pretend everything was all right. I’d end up saying things that weren’t like me at all, and make everyone around us uncomfortable.

Eventually, after some wise counsel, I decided I needed to move on for my own sake. Even if I couldn’t repair the friendship, I had to ask for forgiveness for my part and forgive my former friend for hers. We met up, hashed things out face to face, and decided to move past this—not as friends, but as indifferent acquaintances.

I was still sad over this arrangement—because I’d lost a friend—but okay with it. After all, what else could I do?

But friends, that is not where this story ends.

friendshipSomehow, over the years, we have become friends again. I can’t even tell you how it really happened, except to say that we serve a God who doesn’t settle for “okay.”

So even when it seems that all hope is lost, remember that the God who created the heavens and the earth cares about our relationships. He wants us to be restored to full unity, to be the most effective body of Christ we can be. And if we are willing, he will do miracles in our lives—even when we least expect them.

About the Author

lindsay-harrelLindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd who lives in Arizona with her young family, and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Besides writing, singing, and hanging out with family and friends, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time. Her debut novel, One More Song to Sing, releases December 2016. Connect with her at www.LindsayHarrel.com.

About One More Song to Sing by Lindsay Harrel

onemoresongMore than two decades ago, Olivia Lovett left her old life behind in the red dirt of Oklahoma and forged a career in Nashville as a country music star. Now her voice is failing, forcing her to find a new dream just as the secrets of her past come knocking at the door. Long-time friend Andrew Grant agrees to partner in a new business venture—but would he stick around if he knew her whole story?

After the tragic loss of her father, twenty-one-year-old Ellie Evans headed to Nashville seeking more than just fame. For two years, she’s waitressed, strummed, and sung her way to what may finally be her big break when Olivia offers to sign her to the budding record label. More than anything, Ellie just wants to be seen: by her future fans, by Nick Perry—a fellow musician with a killer smile and kind eyes—and above all else, by the mother who abandoned her. If the spotlight never shines on her, will Ellie ever feel whole?

One More Song to Sing is a romantic drama about the power of forgiveness, second chances, and a God who never fails to see us.

Connect with Lindsay on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/LindsayHarrel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting In Focus with God By Jackie Layton

jackieMy husband and I were both born in Kentucky and met each other in church in Georgia. We fell in love and got married in Athens, Georgia. In 1994 we moved back to Kentucky so our sons could grow up around family. Tim helped start Wesley Village, a retirement community in Wilmore, KY. The village has been a major part of our family for years, and we thought we’d retire there. It turns out God has other plans for us.

On September 16, Tim got a call about a job in South Carolina. We’ve spent years dreaming living at the beach. It was fun to dream, but we knew our lives were cemented in Kentucky. At first, Tim could only list reasons not to consider the job. I was disappointed that we didn’t even ‘dream’ about it, but I couldn’t imagine leaving our families, especially our granddaughters.

In the days that followed, God showed us through devotionals, our Bible readings, and words spoken to us from Christian friends that we needed to consider it. I began to feel God saying, “Follow me.” He continued to give us signs, so Tim filled created a resume. The next day they asked him to fly to Myrtle Beach for an interview.

jackies_friendsWe have life-long friends, Melissa and Willie Lee. Willie and I graduated from pharmacy school together, and the four of us became close friends while in Athens. The Lees moved back to SC, but we stayed in touch. Then we moved to KY and still managed to stay in touch and even vacation together. So, when Tim flew to Myrtle Beach, the Lees took him in. They housed and fed him, and even took him house hunting, just in case.

It turns out Tim was offered the job and is taking it. I won’t be able to move until our house sells, so he’ll go first.

cynthiaThe first time we visited Myrtle Beach, we stayed with Melissa’s parents for Memorial Day Weekend. It’s hard to believe after all of this time, we’re going to be moving to Murrels Inlet. We’ll be close to our dear friends, and we’re excited to see what adventure(s) God has planned for us.

I mentioned Melissa took Tim around looking at houses. After he came home, she found us a great house. We were so impressed we made an offer on it and it’ll be ours at the end of November. I’ll have an office with a view of a lake in our new neighborhood. I know I’ll be inspired to write there.christmas_at_bald

My first novella came out this fall. It’s Christmastide at Bald Head Island. I wrote In Focus. It’s a love story about a woman who dares to face her fears and past hurts for love.

More about me… 

I always loved to read and enjoyed weekly trips to the library. When we got older, Mom would take us downtown to my dad’s drug store, and my brother and I would walk to the library. I could spend hours looking at all the different book options.

When I was a teenager, I read a romance and I can remember telling my mother I wanted to write a romance one day. When I headed off to college though, I chose a practical degree where I could get a job. I’ve enjoyed being a pharmacist and will continue to work in the field of pharmacy, but I love writing. My dream is to be a full-time author, but we’ll see what God’s plans are. Until then, I’ll keep writing inspirational fiction stories that will glorify God.

Writing Awards: 

In 2016  Jackie Layton placed second  in the Inspirational Fabulous Five Contest, First Place in Touched by Love Award 2016, 2016 Second Place in the Orange Rose Contest, Finalist in 2015 Genesis Romantic Suspense, Winner of Inspirational Category 2015 Show Me the Spark, Second Place Romance in the 2013 Writers of the Storm Category 5 Contest, 2014 Genesis Semifinalist Romantic Suspense, top 200 of the Family Fiction Short Story Contest in 2014, and Daphne du Maurier Second Place Inspirational in 2014. Jackie is a member of Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Bluegrass Christian Writers.

Connect with Jackie @
http://www.jackielaytonauthor.com/
http://jackiesbackporch.blogspot.com
Twitter: @Joyfuljel
https://www.facebook.com/JackieLaytonAuthor
https://www.facebook.com/Joyfuljel
https://www.pinterest.com/jackiebeth117/
https://www.instagram.com/joyfuljel/

While My Soldier Serves

edie-melsonBy Edie Melson

There are times when life is lived in the dark. Everywhere we turn—inside and out—the landscape is bleak and barren. God seems a million miles away and our prayers—when we can find the words to pray—feel like they go no farther than the ceiling.

I’ve been through the those times—and come out on the other side. With pride, I’ve sent my son off to war twice. As proud as I was to have a son willing to sacrifice to serve his country, I was just scared that he’d be called on to make the ultimate sacrifice.

When our sons were small, I used to image their lives ahead—learning to drive, beginning to date, and going to college. Like most parents, I’d always assumed I’d have our sons’ college years as a sort of grace period between childhood and adulthood. More than I realized, I’d counted on that time of transition.

When our oldest chose to go from high school graduation straight to Marine Corps boot camp that transition time evaporated. One minute I was hugging goodbye to my child, my oldest son. The next time I saw him, he was a fully formed man—still my son, but without any trace of the child I’d hugged goodbye.

Before that year was out, he was half a world away, deployed in a war zone as a frontline infantry Marine.

It was during those deployments that I learned about darkness of the heart. I wanted to protect him, I ached to shield him from what I knew he was experiencing, but I couldn’t. So I did the one thing I could do. It began as my course of last resort because I was at the end of my own strength.

I prayed.

And I prayed.

And I prayed some more.

I searched for books of prayers that would help give voice to the emotions welling up in my heart, but found nothing. So I began to journal my own prayers. I learned how to take my overwhelming fear to the only One who could protect him. And I left my son in God’s hands. The prayers weren’t pretty. And that old deployment journal I kept is dog-eared and tear-stained.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was like a seed, planted deep in the ground. I was surrounded by darkness, by rough, rocky soil, pressing in on all sides crushing the life from me. But through that incredible pressure, the shell of my own strength fell away, and I slowly began to push toward the light that I knew was just beyond the darkness.

And my course of last resort became my strength, and the first place I turned. Instead of praying in desperation, I began to pray in confidence. I learned to lean into God, instead of turning in on myself.

On May 12,  just after Mother’s Day 2015, the final harvest of that time of darkness has come to fruition. It’s a book of prayers for those with loved ones in the military, While My Soldier Serves. I’ve written the book that I searched so hard to find. God has taken my time of darkness and is shining it as a light for those who are also facing the incredible stress of having a loved one at war.

Never doubt that God will bring a harvest of joy, no matter how dark the days you’re facing now.

While My Soldier Serveswhile_my_soldier_serves

by Edie Melson

Thousands of families send loved ones off to fight on a daily basis. These families spend a lot of time living in a world out of control. This kind of stress can take an incredible toll, but there is hope. When we feel helpless, we can take our fears to the One who loves us more than anything and holds the universe in His hands.

In this book you’ll find the words to usher you into His presence. These prayers are a place to visit again and again as you take your own fears to God. They’re just a starting point, written to help you find your own voice as you call out on behalf of the one you love.

Her newest book

Alonealone

After her family is killed in the cleansing, Bethany’s purpose in life has changed. No longer will she be allowed to work to save her dying planet. As a slave, endurance is her goal as she marks each day as one moment closer to an eternity spent reunited with those she loved. But when her planet is invaded, everything changes. Now she must decide either to align herself with those from her planet who condemned her faith and killed her family, or with the warriors who have conquered her world. Ultimately her choice will mean life or death for more than just her planet’s ecosystem. She alone holds the key to a powerful secret, and the fate of the entire galaxy depends on her decision.

Author Bio:

edie-melsonFind your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, no matter if she’s writing for fiction readers, parents, military families, fiction readers or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives.

As a leading professional within the publishing industry, she travels to numerous conferences as a popular keynote, writing instructor and mentor. Her top-ranked blog for writers, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month, and she’s the Director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. She’s a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine. She’s also the Social Media Mentor for My Book Therapy, Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com, and regular columnist for Guideposts.org, Just18Summers.com and PuttingOnTheNew.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Connect with her on her blog, The Write Conversation, Twitter, and Facebook.

 

What’s In My Shoebox and Why

img_3142This morning I shopped for and packed my shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.  This is the tenth year my church has participated in this wonderful mission project.  I always start with an empty box; then I pray as I walk the aisle, and search for just the right thing to fit in the shoebox.  I have to admit; I hadn’t a clue if everything I bought this morning would fit.

picmonkey_image (8)A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to work at the distribution center and a woman who had been the recipient of a shoebox as a child, spoke to us on our break. Her gift box included a box of pencils. In fear of someone else at the orphanage stealing her pencils, she slept with them.  My shoebox will always include pencils, a pencil sharpener, and notepads.

While in Africa, my niece witnessed some of the children with whom she’d been working receive shoeboxes.  They had no idea what to do with the toothpaste, so I added more pencils and left out the toothpaste.

I know from experience on the mission field that if you bounce a ball, children come running. That’s why I include a durable rubber ball in my box for the toy.  Many of the children in Africa don’t have dishes to hold their food, so I try to cram in a plastic cup, bowl, and a metal spoon.

img_3145A necessity for the shoebox is soap. You have no idea how much this is needed unless you’ve visited a poverty stricken nation. I managed to squeeze three bars of soap, and a good quality wash cloth is layered on the bottom with a canvas shopping bag. That all purpose bag will be used until it’s completely worn out.

Somehow, I managed to pack in eight pairs of girls underwear, a top, and sweatpants. These clothes will be worn daily until they literally fall off.

We pack the boxes in November, and it was the following September when the children received shoeboxes in Africa.  So, I make sure the to send hard candy that will not perish to fill in the empty space. I also include a comb, chapstick, and ponytail holders to fill in the tiniest of spaces.

img_3150Whatever you do, please make sure to deliver your shoebox on time to your local church or collection organization. The first year, I made my shoebox but missed the date. The child who should have received a gift was left empty handed because of my procrastination. I won’t let that happen again.

Be sure to leave a note on your box to tell the child that Jesus loves him or her. Close it, and wrap at least two rubber bands around the top.  Your box will be examined at the Operations Center to ensure no liquids or inappropriate items are inside, but the worker will re-pack your items with care.

picmonkey_image (16)God blessed me with the chance to meet another Operation Christmas Child recipient at our hotel.  He told me that receiving the shoebox made a difference in his life. Renan is standing next to my friend Tammie.

And finally, label you box and indicate if it’s for a girl or boy, include the age range, and PRAY over your box and ask that the child who receives it will receive the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ, as his/her Savior and Redeemer.hand