Monday, October 13, 2014

An Uninvited Visitor

We will rejoice and be glad. Psalm 118:24  ~ photo courtesy of Google images

One midlife malady I never reckoned with has come to call.  It was a long time coming. I’d heard stories about its insidious ways over the years from friends suffering from it.  But since I have six children, with a span of almost 17 years between the first sons (twins) and the last child, my home was full and busy. An “empty nest” was nowhere on my radar.  Then, the sneaky intruder moved in a few weeks ago when my youngest child, Robbie, left for college.

At first I didn’t recognize it, calling it simply one of those transitions I’ve written about recently.  I’d heard you need to call these things by their common name in order to effectively deal with it.  Okay, then.  Hello, Mr. Empty Nest.

I’m really okay with that. I have enjoyed being the mother of all my wonderful children and I treasure those growing up years.  It’s only appropriate that the children should grow up and leave the nest. God has blessed us.

But, when I have a momentary lapse into sadness, I remember Ezra’s words that comforted the children of Israel. God’s people had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon. The city lay in ruin and they were in despair. (See Nehemiah 8:1-12)

Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10b

To be fair, I’ve tried to be hospitable to my uninvited guest and attend with patience and understanding. It’s caused me to think, a lot, and have lots of conversations with God my Father. It’s at time like these that I praise God for His promises and I remember who I am as a child of the King.

For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5 

I'm pleased to report, my youngest son has already come home for visits. When there is no big football game, Lord willing, he’ll come again. I will make his favorite meals, give him my full attention, and see for myself that he is learning to fly. 

Robbie looking at Gabriel's eggs at our family's Easter Egg Hunt, 2014.

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever. Psalm 118:29

Thanks friends for spending some time with me today.  You are a blessing.

Now, to announce the winner of Carol Stratton's entertaining debut novel, Lake Surrender.  Thanks so much to all of you who visited and commented on last week's interview. Congratulations goes to Pamela Harrison whose name was chosen in the random drawing.   

Monday, October 6, 2014

Interview with Carol Stratton, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas author, plus the monthly Book Give-Away

Carol Grace Stratton

My guest today is author Carol Stratton. We became acquainted through our publisher, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. I enjoyed reading her insightful devotional, Changing Zip Codes, and now I'm reading her highly entertaining debut novel, Lake Surrender. 

Would you like a chance to win a copy of Lake Surrender for yourself or a friend? All you need to do to enter is leave a comment below concerning this interview, along with your email address, by Saturday, October 11th. I will announce the winner on Monday, October 13th. Participated is limited to U.S. residents. I hope you'll participate.  It's easy.  Now, enjoy the interview.

Thank you, Carol, for being my guest today.  Please tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in Northern California but spent most of my married life moving around in the Midwest. I am married to a great guy and we have four grown kids and five grandchildren. I’ve worked as a recreation supervisor, retail and a teacher’s aide in an autistic classroom. Currently I am working fulltime as a reporter for a local newspaper.

I got the bug to write in 6th grade when I was published in our town newspaper, but I put writing away for years. Finally when my youngest was in middle school, I started going to writing conferences. Little by little I published articles while I worked on a children’s novel. That particular novel is still unpublished and has racked up 31 rejections!

A few years ago I meet my publisher, Eddie Jones, who was looking for devotionals in a niche market.  I suggested one called Changing Zip Codes: Finding Community Wherever You’re Transplanted.  That devotional was published in  2012.  A year later I submitted my second manuscript, Lake Surrender, which just came out.

For you is writing a passion, a calling, or both?

I believe you can be a great writer with a lot of passion but a calling is necessary to fulfill one’s destiny. I was insecure when I started out about even admitting I was a writer, so God graciously spoke to me after my first Christian writing conference, saying, “Pursue joy and comfort people.”  That’s all he said but I knew he wanted me to write.

What’s the best thing about writing a book?

Feeling like you have connected with people in a unique manner and  encouraged some readers.  I had a reader say my devotional saved her life when she moved and that made my day.

What inspired you on your writing journey?

Maybe who might be a better question. Two writers have really stuck with me. I read all of Catherine Marshall’s books while a baby Christian and knew I wanted to be a communicator for Jesus. The second writer, Jan Karon has inspired me because she started late in life (age 49) and gave up all to pursue her dream.  I was the same age when I read her bio and that encouraged me that it wasn’t too late.

What was your journey to publication like?

Long and sometimes discouraging. My first book took 12 years to be published. I’m not sure why I didn’t quit. My husband kept asking me why not do something with less rejection.

One piece of writing advice you wish you’d had from the beginning

Do the writing for yourself, not for fame or approval. Don’t worry if people don’t “get” you.

Share with us the most meaningful truth you hope your readers glean from your writing.

I hope people see how intimately involved our God is with every detail of our lives even when we don’t realize it.

Could you tell us a little about the book you will be giving away to one of our readers?

My debut novel is about a hot shot editor who has lost her career, home, and marriage. She takes her two children, one an autistic son, and moves from the San Francisco Bay Area to Michigan. The only job she finds is a cook in a Christian camp.  The problem is she can’t cook and doesn’t like religious people. But through the experience she finds a God who hasn’t forgotten her as her journey ends where the lake begins.

I’d like to share one of my favorite Scripture verses in closing. Sometimes promoting a book can be overwhelming, as can life in general, but the Lord only asks us to stand where we are supposed to stand and face our trials and enemies. He is the one who will fight them.

You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the LORD is with you. 2 Chronicles 20:17

Thanks Carol for sharing with us about your writing and your life.

Readers, I appreciate your visiting Write Moments with God.  I hope you will leave a comment below—which is great encouragement for me and Carol—and you will be included in the random drawing for her new novel. Become a follower of the blog for an additional entry.

Connect with Carol Stratton online at the following locations:

Twitter: @carolgstratton
Pinterest: Carol Stratton

Monday, September 29, 2014

How Do You Like Your Coffee?

Flat white coffee ~ photo courtesy of Jeanne Henriques ~ Collage of Life

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?  1 Peter 4:17 

As I read, I absentmindedly reached for my cup of coffee.  I took a sip, expecting the bold, fresh taste of hot coffee, but instead it was lukewarm. That was not what I wanted.  I poured the coffee in the sink and made a fresh cup.  Hot or iced, it’s delicious.  Does anyone like coffee lukewarm?

I thought of the Lord’s message to the seven churches in the Revelation. 

The church at Laodicea had become lukewarm. (See Revelation 3:14-22)

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.  Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.  Revelation 3:15-16

Spew them out of His mouth!  Just like we might spit out a lukewarm sip of coffee that has lost its flavor.

I used to be shocked by that statement, thinking it was too harsh.  It sounded rather like a kick in the seat of the pants accusation.  The Lord rebuked the church, but He goes on to say that He chastens those He loves. 

The church at Laodicea needed revival.  They needed to repent of their sins and return to God with their whole hearts, ready to embrace their calling with renewed enthusiasm. Not unlike the Church today which needs revival.  Many people profess Christ, but they are nothing more than lukewarm in their faith.  Far too many Christians could be described as lukewarm

We need repentance…renewal…fresh fire in our souls. Drawing closer to God through prayer and the study of God's word will get the flame of spiritual enthusiasm burning again as the Holy Spirit renews and inspires us.

I remember the time when I had newly dedicated my life to the Lord.  I was so excited about the Good News of Jesus Christ and so grateful to God for His Atonement.  Joy filled my heart with love and hope.  I wanted to tell everybody about Jesus.  No one could have accused me of being lukewarm then. 

We ought to pray as David did.

Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:11-12. 

Granddaughter Mya showing off her princess skirt.
Thank you for visiting Write Moments with God.  I pray that God's love and grace, and the joy of your salvation will warm your heart and soul and inspire you today.  Thanks for visiting.  Feel free to share your thoughts below.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Out of Darkness into His Marvelous Light

Sunrise at Seabrook Island ~ courtesy of Eileen DeCamp

But the pathway of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Proverbs 4:18

I’m a classic movie fan.  I love the old movies from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. You don’t have to watch too many of those to realize that the world is a vastly different place today than back then.  Much has changed, not only in the modernization of the world and technology, but also in the moral attitudes and climate.  Many of the evils that we face today were not even imagined back then. The moral standards that governed the majority of folks were almost taken for granted.  Evil is increasing like a dark gloomy cloud over the earth.  Some days I don’t even want to turn on the news.

Indeed, it was foretold.

But, the light is shining brighter

I love Proverbs 4:18.  In fact, I awoke one night saying “shining more and more…shining more and more." I didn’t know I knew a Scripture with those words.  I didn’t remember reading it, but the following afternoon when the words came to mind again, I looked them up in my Bible.  I was delighted to read in Proverbs the words I was saying in the night. 
It’s become a favorite verse to me because it’s revealed to me what God expects.

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  1 John 1:5

The Holy Spirit of God alive in us is the light that shines through us. Our lives and the good that we do are ordained by God for the purpose of glorifying Him. His light shines through us into the darkness of the world.  The body of Christ must be fruitful for the Kingdom of God.  We must bear the fruits of the Spirit in the church, in our lives, in the world, through the power of our faith and His love working in us.  We must shine more and more and draw others to Him by our living faith.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  Matthew 5:16

God has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. (See 1 Peter 2:9)

Another sunrise photo courtesy of Eileen DeCamp

Thank you for visiting Write Moments with God.  I appreciate all your encouragement through your visits, kind words, comments, and messages to me on Facebook.  Thank you.  May the Light of God shine on and through you.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Besides Change, What Can We Depend On?

Seabrook Island Beach ~ photo courtesy of Eileen DeCamp

I've experienced so many changes and transitions in my life over the last year and a half, I found myself searching through the Scriptures to find truths that would provide comfort and insight. I searched through my own writing as well. I'm posting an excerpt from my devotional journal, God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea: Experiencing God in the Midst of Everyday Moments.

Besides Change What Can We Depend On?

The Lord is my rock; and my fortress, and my deliverer;
the God of my rock; in him will I trust… 2 Samuel 22:2-3a (KJV)

          Through the years, harmonious and happy living has been my desire for me and my children. With much diligence and a sense of purpose, this working mother of six children maintains a certain balance—most of the time. My home is a peaceful oasis in a chaotic world—most of the time. Life goes smoothly—most of the time. Until the unexpected happens: auto accidents, illnesses, financial upsets, death. Life is interrupted; peace is disrupted.
Changes naturally occur. It might be as simple and immediate as a new supervisor at work, or as life-changing as the death of a loved one. A child grows up and moves away from home. Oh, why can’t life flow smoothly and peacefully all the time? Why can’t life stay just as we like it, all the time? We long for heaven on earth.
            Jesus told us our Heavenly Father makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. As the saying goes: In every life some rain must fall. The wise Solomon told us: To every thing there is a season. Such is life. Then besides change, what can we depend on?
We can depend on our unchanging Savior, Jesus, the Messiah ...  the same yesterday and today—and forever! We can depend on the God of our salvation, our Rock, and put our trust in the One who is for all eternity. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. God is the only unchanging variable in our lives.

Suggested Reading: Deuteronomy 32:4; 2 Samuel 22:1-4; Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; Matthew 5:45; 1 Corinthians 10:4; Hebrews 13:8; Revelation 1:11

Journaling Considerations: Have you ever lamented the changes in your life? Can you think of 

some changes that unsettled you and caused you to look to God?

Beautiful photo of Beaver Creek Reservoir courtesy of Eileen DeCamp

 Dear God, the Rock of my salvation, I put my trust in you. Thank you for being eternal God, my fortress. You are the anchor of my soul.

 Today’s Sweet Tea Moment: Build all on the sure foundation of Christ.

 Prayer Focus: That all may come to know Him.

Thank you for visiting Write Moments with God.  Please come again.

I'm happy to announce that Cheryl Colwell is the winner of Dianne Neal Matthews devotional, Designed for Devotion. Thank you Dianne for being my guest and for graciously giving away a copy of your lovely devotional.  It was a pleasure to get to know you better.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Meet Designed for Devotion Author ~ Plus Book Give-away

Dianne Neal Matthews

I'm glad you've joined me today. Our guest author is Dianne Neal Matthews, a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books including The One Year Women of the Bible and Designed for Devotion, which won a 2013 Selah Award. She also writes for websites and blogs, contributes to compilations (including Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus), and teaches at writers' conferences. Dianne and her husband currently live in southeast Texas, but she is frequently on the road to visit her children and grandchildren.

I asked Dianne to share one of the devotions from her book, Designed for Devotion
I love the title and think this devotional is a good companion for reading through the bible. It's my pleasure to introduce Dianne and her writing to you.

Philippians: Joy to the Church

Always be joyful in the Lord! I'll say it again: Be joyful! Philippians 4:4

Paul enjoyed a special relationship with the believers in Philippi. The church that originated from a handful of women on a riverbank in Macedonia faithfully supported Paul and for the most part, remained a healthy congregation. When the believers heard that Paul had been imprisoned in Rome, they sent a financial gift through one of their members, Epaphroditus. Paul responded by writing the Philippians a letter to express his gratitude and deep love for them, and to urge them toward a lifestyle of holiness, humility, unity, and joy.

Philippians does contains a small amount of doctrinal teaching. Paul addressed the problem of rivalry and dissension in the church, and touched on the false teachings of legalism and antinomianism. But Philippians is primarily a personal letter of love and encouragement toward spiritual growth. Besides the benefit of Paul’s instructions, he offers himself as a living example as he shares thoughts about his circumstances.

Paul declares that he has learned to be content in whatever situation he finds himself (4:11). He has the assurance that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him (4:13). Such victorious living is possible because of his single-minded devotion to knowing Christ and sharing the gospel. Paul urges his readers to imitate Christ’s perfect example of sacrifice and humility when he temporarily set aside his rightful glory and took on human form, even submitting to a horrible death on the cross.

The concept of “joy” is a predominant theme in Philippians. The noun and verb form of “joy” or a synonym is used sixteen times in the letter’s four chapters. While happiness depends on our outward circumstances, joy is deeper, stronger, and springs from our attitudes and mindset. Joy is a steadfast, confident assurance of God’s love and presence in our life no matter what we’re going through. Philippians is our own personal love letter from God, reminding us that joy is a gift he wants all his children to enjoy.

About the Book: Designed for Devotion: A 365 Day Journeyfrom Genesis to Revelation provides an overview of the Bible in chronological order. It offers background information for each book, including the author, theme, purpose for writing, and historical setting. The devotional highlights the key stories and characters in the OT and gospels, and explores the basic teachings of the NT writers. Several devotions called “Jesus Sightings” focus on how Christ fulfilled Old Testament prophecies. Also included are devotions about the 400-year period between the Testaments, the concept of “theophany”, the distinction between the Major and Minor Prophets, and other topics. Each day’s devotion ends with a practical application that encourages readers to apply that day’s spiritual lesson to their own journey with God.

To learn more, please visit or connect with Dianne through FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

Thank you so much for visiting Write Moments with God. Dianne and I would love to hear from you.  

Would you like a chance to win a copy of Designed for Devotions? It's easy. All you have to do to be included in the drawing is leave a comment below with your email address by midnight September 6, 2014.  I will announce the winner on Monday, September 8, 2014. (Participation is limited to residents of the USA.)  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Engraved on the Palms of His Hands

"My peace I give you" written on the palm of my hand.
          "Mrs. Johnson, what do you have written on the palm of your hand," a student asked?
          "Notes to myself," I replied.

          You see, I've gotten into the habit of writing bits of Scripture on the palm of my hand.  Occasionally, I write a note, a phone number, something I need to remember, but usually I write a phrase from Scripture that I can refer to throughout the day.  Notes I can keep constantly before my eyes.
 My peace I give you...

 My trust is in You....

 Believe ye that I am able... 

My refuge and my strength....

          These words are constant reminders to me that God is faithful.  The faith filled words help me keep a godly perspective throughout my busy day.  A perspective that is in line with His Word and His Will.

          Isn't it amazing that we are so dear to God that He has us engraved upon the palms of His hands?

          Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?  Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.... Isaiah 49:15,16a (NIV)

Photo courtesy of Marissa Nicole Photography 
Thank you for visiting Write Moments with God. The meditation that I'm sharing today was a very popular post two years ago.  I currently have a short term teaching position. When I wrote on my palm with a Sharpie this week, I remembered this meditation.  

Be blessed.  God has not forgotten you.