Monthly Archives: January 2017

Birthday Blessings

    My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

January is a special month for my family because we celebrate birthdays on January 4, 5, 18, and 25.  January 11 is a bittersweet day because it was my mother-in-law Judy’s birthday.  She is still loved, and I have the hope we will be reunited in heaven.

I’ve been especially thankful as we celebrate each birthday this year because I am surrounded by family and friends who are enduring a season of loss. One is mourning the sudden death of her husband, another friend’s child died, and someone else had to say goodbye to his mom.  Please lift a prayer for them.  Most of us take days for granted and believe there’s plenty of time to do all the things  we want to do. Maybe there is and maybe there isn’t. Only God knows.

The month is close to an end, so if you made a New Year’s resolution, you’re planning to be around for a while.  I’m hoping to travel to Israel with my sister later this year. Friends have commented, “It’s not safe to go to Israel.” I agree, because it’s  not safe to go anywhere. But there is nothing for me to fear because I have Jesus as my savior, and I hope, you do too. Sometimes I am afraid, but that’s my brain talking. As I grow in faith, and make more room for Jesus in my heart, it’s filled with more love, more joy and more peace. Sometimes worry sneaks into my thoughts. That’s why it’s so important to spend daily time studying scripture and in prayer.

What are your plans for the coming year?  Did you make a New Year’s resolution? My resolution is that I’m going to try to draw closer to God and be open to whatever He wants me to do. I’d hoped to be planning a return trip to Kenya, but that’s not going to happen. I don’t know what God has in store for me, but I trust him.

I’m so very thankful for Jesus and the price He paid to redeem me and you. I’m grateful for my family, my health and the ability to work and travel.  Someday, my heart and flesh will fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. I pray God is the strength of your heart too. If He’s not, I’d like to review a lesson I use with children to teach them the ABC’s of becoming a Christian.

 A – Admit that you are a sinner and repent. (If you know what sin is and are genuinely               heartbroken for the things you’ve done, just admit it to God.)

B – Believe that Jesus is the Son of God and He paid our sin debt.  (This is the most difficult for most, believing is having FAITH)

C – Confess and tell others that Jesus is Lord of your life.

Scriptures to support the ABC’s of becoming a Christian:

 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 NIV

 For God so love the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him      shall not perish be have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 NKJV

If you’ve never accepted Jesus into your heart, I pray you will seek Him and ask Him to speak to you. Just close your eyes and talk to Jesus like He’s your best friend, because He is. It’s not the words that save you, it’s the condition of you heart.

You must have FAITH to receive God’s GRACE.

Someone will  win a free copy of  The Wonders of Nature this week. I’ll draw  a name from my subscribers on Saturday, January 28, 2017 and announce the winner. Thank you for stopping by today. I pray you will have a blessed week.

 

Friendship, Faith, & Sisterhood

By Jessica R. Patch

When I think of sisters, I should immediately think of me and my older sister, but actually the Haynes sisters from White Christmas come to mind along with their signature song: “Sisters”. Maybe it’s because Christmas recently passed or it could just be the song. It sticks in your head. Ever heard it? No?

You’re welcome. J

My big sis is five years older than me. We didn’t have much in common growing up. She liked to make messes and play outside. I liked to stay clean and play Barbies and baby dolls inside. But we loved to ride our Honda 50 around town, making up songs, laughing. We shared late night giggles while taking turns drawing pictures on one another’s backs until the other guessed it. When I became a teenager, we did more things together. Double-dated (all disasters for me, all blame on her). Sometimes I went to work at Radio Shack with her. I have no clue why I enjoyed that so much. She took me to see MC Hammer and Boys II Men (have I dated myself?). We took up for each other. Defended one another.

Now we live states apart, but we still talk with one another. We pray for each other—something we never did growing up. Sad isn’t it? We’re close. Bonded by blood, faith, and more common interests than we had as kids! There isn’t anything we wouldn’t do for one another no matter the miles that separate us. We would be friends if we weren’t sisters. I think that’s super cool!

Click on the cover for the Amazon link.

In Concealed Identity, my heroine Blair has a younger sister Gigi who lives with her.   They have a unique bond. And many of the choices Blair makes throughout the book is because of the love she has for her sister. Not only love because they’re sisters, but because they’re friends. It was a lot of fun writing about sisterhood. About being the big sister (since I’m not) and creating a character who would sacrifice so much, even herself for her sister. Her friend. I’d like to think I’d do the same. Although, I don’t see drug cartels coming after me with a vengeance. But I guess you never know!

Do you have a sister? Do you live close? Who’s oldest?

One of Shelia’s subscribers will have the chance to win a free copy of Concealed Identity.  Scroll to the top and click on  the blue “Subscribe” button. She’ll announce the winner on Saturday, January 21. Good Luck!

About Jessica R. Patch

Jessica R. Patch lives in the mid-south where she pens inspirational contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels. When she’s not hunched over her laptop or going on adventurous trips in the name of research with willing friends, you can find her watching way too much Netflix with her family and collecting recipes to amazing dishes she’ll probably never cook. Sign up for her newsletter at www.jessicarpatch.com.

Love Your Enemies

By Krista Phillips

A long time ago, there was this girl.

We’ll call her—Minnie Mouse.

That’s not really her name of course. I’m disguising it to protect the innocent—er—guilty—er—whatever. I’m keeping her identity hidden because she would probably hate everything about this post, okay? AND because calling her Minnie Mouse is gonna make me giggle every time I type it in place of the REAL person’s name, and this story (which will be kept vague in places so no one will recognize it) needs to make me giggle. It really does.

So, Minnie Mouse is—well—my enemy.

She doesn’t really KNOW she’s my enemy. At least I don’t think so.

But Minnie gets on my ever-loving last nerve and if I never had to talk to her again a day in my life, I’d honestly would be super duper happy. That is the honest, sad truth of the matter.

Mean, right?

Don’t tell me that a picture of that person in your own life didn’t just filter through your brain. I know I can’t be the only one who struggles with this.

Minnie Mouse didn’t start off as my enemy. She actually seemed kinda nice in a quirky, a little over-opinionated kind of way.

But the more I got to know Minnie, the harder it was to be her friend, even in a casual way.

We’re supposed to love our neighbor, right?

Right. But have you ever thought about that? Loving your “neighbor” isn’t that hard most of the time. Bake some cookies, give money to the poor, volunteer, etc. It’s a sacrifice of time and resources and money, but totally doable. Honestly, the “world” as we in the Christian-realm like to call it, can do a pretty decent job of loving their neighbor as well. Christians need to do a better job, in fact.

But Jesus—he kicked that bar up a mile or so when he added enemy to the mix.

We’re supposed to—love our enemies?

I’m not gonna lie. That’s a toughie.

Back to Minnie Mouse. She quickly jumped from the “neighbor” train to the “enemy” train after a few rounds of backstabbing, lying, manipulating, and one fun encounter of yelling at me, all while doing so in the name of God.

In my heart, I knew her actions came from some deep part in her that was hurt. She apologized a few different times—but her apologies always came with a “but this is why I did what I did and why it wasn’t REALLY that bad…”

Through it all, I felt God calling me to love her. Pray for her. Intercede on her behalf.

At some point, he also called me to put up some very healthy boundaries, which I did, but the experience taught me something that, before then, hadn’t really hit me.

Loving your enemies doesn’t make them no longer your enemy.

For a long time, I was overwhelmed with the idea of loving my enemy because I looked at some of the people in the world who would easily fall into that category and couldn’t understand it. The abusive husband? The drunk driver who killed someone? The cheating spouse? The racist? The bully?

How could God ask anyone to be friends with these people?

The answer is:

He doesn’t. At least not every time. (Personally, I’ve had a few bullies who turned into friends, but that is another story.)

He knows they’re your enemies. He isn’t asking you to change that, because it isn’t in your power to do so. He’s asking us to love them, pray for them, where they are at. Period. And he isn’t asking us to do anything he hasn’t already done himself. He loved those people enough to send his son to die for them, too.

I’m here to tell you, the exercise of loving Minnie Mouse did much more for MY heart than it ever did for hers. To my knowledge, she hasn’t changed much, although I still pray for her when God puts it on my heart, hoping she will change. But it made me start to look at my enemies differently, and that, my friends, is a very good thing.

About Krista Phillips

Krista Phillips writes contemporary romance sprinkled with two of her favorite things, laughter and Jesus. And sometimes chocolate for kicks and giggles. She lives in Middle Tennessee with her husband and their four beautiful daughters, and is an advocate for congenital heart defect and organ donation awareness. Visit her online at www.kristaphillips.com.

 

 

To order her new book, A (sorta) Southern Serenade, click on the cover. 

A romantic comedy novella! She’s a Yankee transplant. He’s a good ol’ Southern boy. She’s a rich heiress of a multi-million dollar family fortune. He’s gotten everything he has through old fashioned hard work. She thinks he’s arrogant. He thinks she’s uppity. She’s trying to find her place in this world. He’s trying to run from his. It’s (sorta) a match made in Heaven.

Shelia will draw a name from her subscribers on Saturday, January 14, 2017, and some lucky person will win a free copy.  Scroll to the top of the page to subscribe.

 

 

Be Still and Wait

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him, fret no yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices. Psalm 37:7 ESV

For the first time in five years, I don’t have a mission trip scheduled on the calendar. I’m waiting and praying for guidance, which is the first step to planning any mission trip. There are so many in Africa who have never heard the name of Jesus, and this burdens me. But plans have not worked out (yet) for me to return to the dark continent this year.

Cedar Street, Franklin, KY. Used with permission of Barry Freas.

Maybe I’m supposed to stay home for a change. On any given Sunday, there are about 14,000 in my community, who stay home on Sunday mornings. There are empty pews in my home church every week. But my goal isn’t to fill a pew. It’s to point people to Jesus, so lives and hearts will be changed.

It’s not necessary to go to Africa to discover the lost. Every day people who don’t know Jesus cross my path. But it’s so much more difficult to share the gospel in America (a Christian nation) than in Niger (a Muslim nation). In Niger and Kenya, I’m treated as an honored guest because the people know I’ve traveled far so I must have something significant to tell them.  In America, I’m afraid to knock on a stranger’s door.

Perhaps I’m to spend my spare time working on my writing instead of planning a mission trip. While attending a conference last year, one of the guest speakers said that she feels the Christian novel is the most effective evangelical tool to reach the lost.

In the meantime. I’m going to attempt to do something that’s difficult for me. I’m going to wait on the Lord to direct me and try to be as bold a witness in my hometown as I am in Africa.

It seems to me the world is spiraling out of control and I feel helpless. But I’m not, because I have Jesus, who is always with me. He is the one with the power to change lives, and He blesses me by allowing me to be a part of His plan.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog posts. You’ll never know how much your encouragement lifts me and keep me rising early each morning to write. Please let me know if you have a special prayer request for 2017. Happy New Year!