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HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Psalm 100: 4

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;

give thanks to him and praise his name.

 

Gratitude is focusing on what you have, not what you want.

Gratitude is a lifestyle.

Gratitude is a choice.

Gratitude is the key to a joy-filled life, no matter the circumstances.

 

I have brain tumors, but they aren’t malignant.

I’m partially deaf, but I can still hear my husband when he tells me that he loves me.

I had to retire from a job I loved, but I don’t have to worry about paying my bills.

I’m not a rich and famous author, but people read the stories I write—and like them.

I’m not as healthy as I used to be, but I’m healthier than I was last year.

I don’t live in a fancy new house, but my house is filled with love and laughter.

 

Life changes and not always for the better.

Some might be tempted to grumble and complain.

Some might be tempted to give up and give in.

I choose to give thanks to the Lord for he is good and his love endures forever.

Happy Thanksgiving!

My list could go on and on, but you get the idea.

What’s on your list?

 

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

Want More Joy?

Matthew 22

Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Life nis not nearly as complicated as most of us make it. Here’s a quick and easy to remember formula that will bring more joy in your life. If you want more JOY in your life, then focus first on Jesus, then on Others, and finally on Yourself.  The first above says exactly the same thing. Love God; love your neighbor as yourself.

Focus on Jesus. Jesus said the first and most important commandment is to love God with all your heart and mind. It’s not enough to say that you do, you must show that love to God. One of the ways to do that is to spend time praising and worshiping God and I don’t just mean in church on Sunday. From the beginning, Jesus was meant to bring joy to those of us on earth.

Luke 2:10

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

Focus on others. Jesus talked of love again and again. He wanted His followers to show God’s love to others. Loving others is not a suggestion, but a commandment. Again, loving others doesn’t have to be complicated. Smile at people; be friendly, when  you can help someone in need, help them. Talking about loving others includes loving your spouse and your family. Sometimes we spend all our energy helping people outside of our house. That’s wonderful but save enough energy to be sweet and kind with those you live with.

John 13:34

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Focus on yourself. Yes, we are to focus on first on Jesus, then on others but don’t think that we are not to focus on ourselves. God doesn’t want us to be selfish or self-centered but He does want us to enjoy our life. He does want us to take care of ourselves in a healthy and balanced way.

We shouldn’t put ourselves first all the time but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t put ourselves first sometimes. We need to take care of our own emotional, physical, and spiritual needs as well as others.

So there you have it. Want more joy in your life? Then follow God’s greatest commandment and the second as well, and you’ll suddenly have more joy than you can imagine.

Until next time…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

Do You Recognize Jesus?

Luke 24: 30-31

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him.

Do you recognize Jesus when you see him?

As Christians, we would hope the answer to that question would be a resounding yes! After all, who would want to miss a moment like that? Not me!

But yet, I’m afraid I’ve often failed to recognize Jesus. Too busy. Too many things on my mind. Too much time spent on worrying about me and my problems.

The minute things start going wrong in our life, we go in a panic. Where is God? Why is He letting this happen to me? What did I do to make God mad? Life isn’t supposed to be like this–it’s supposed to be easy, right? Wrong.

Jesus never promised us we wouldn’t have problems but he did promise he would never leave or forsake us.

If you aren’t recognizing Jesus in your present circumstances, take some time and reflect on your past. As you do, you will begin to recognize that Jesus was there, guiding you, supporting you, and loving you even in the toughest of times. And even that many of the things that were hard when we were going through it, actually was a good thing in the long run.

A few years ago, my part-time position as a speech pathologist was eliminated. And it was the PERFECT JOB for me. I loved the kids, the teachers, even the principal was a nice guy. I was not a happy camper, but a few months later I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors.

Now, I know me well enough to know that I wouldn’t have quit the job on my own, like I said, it was the PERFECT JOB. Instead, I would have kept the job while I was undergoing treatments and side-effects from the treatment and…all that wold have done was cause me stress!

God knew me well enough to know that too.He smoothed out the rough road ahead of me by making sure I could concentrate on my health instead of stressing out about responsibilites that I could not have fulfilled.

God is so good!

I didn’t recognize Jesus at the time, but he was with me anyway. If you are in the midst of a tough situation, pray for God to open your eyes so that you can recognize Jesus. He is with you!

I’d love for you to share a time when God was with you even when you didn’t recognize him.

REDEMPTION—A DEVOTION

Romans 3: 22-24

 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 

The title of my newest book is REDEMPTION so it seemed to me a good topic to write about in a devotion. Dictionary.com defines redemption as an act of atoning for a fault or a mistake; deliverance or rescue; deliverance from sin; salvation; atonement for guilt.

The title came about as a result of Jamie, the main character being ashamed of things she’s done in her past as a consultant to the FBI. As a result she feels God can’t love her the way she is. So she seeks redemption by putting herself in dangerous situations to help other people.

That makes for a good plot in a suspense novel, but it’s important to know that we can’t save ourselves through good acts, through helping others, or even being really good people. There is only one way to receive redemption: meaning salvation; meaning going to heaven to live with God forever!

We are saved through our faith in Jesus—and only through our faith in Jesus.

No amount of good works can earn us a ticket to heaven! It doesn’t matter how “good” we are, how much money we give to good causes (including the church), or how kind we are to others.

Only our belief in Jesus as the Son of God can save us.

And the reverse is true as well as Jamie discovers in my novel, REDEMPTION. Your past doesn’t matter. God loves you just the way you are. He won’t turn his back on you because of your past, present, or even your future mistakes.

And that is more awesome than I can say, but 2 Corinthians 9:15 says it best:

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

REDEMPTION PROMO:

To celebrate the release of REDEMPTION, I’m giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card. But wait…there’s more! I always feel bad for the people who enter the contest but don’t win. So I’m also going to pick FIVE more lucky names to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card. Just the right amount to buy REDEMPTION! Just kidding, the winners can use it to buy whatever they wish.

All you need to do is leave a comment here or under any of the posts with REDEMPTION in the title. Contest ends on October 18!

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BLURB:

Others may think Jamie Jakowski is a hero, but she knows differently.

Haunted by her past, she seeks redemption by helping others in spite of the danger to herself. However, after almost orphaning her daughter, Jamie opts to retire. When a friend needs her, Jamie agrees to one last undercover operation.

She is determined to reunite a heartbroken mother with her kidnapped son. Used to working alone, Jamie’s not happy when she’s assigned a partner. And after a failed operation and their failed romance, Enrique Rodriguez is the last person she wants to work with—ever.

To succeed, Jamie must confront her past as well as the people who want her dead.

DON’T FORGET TO LEAVE A COMMENT!

 UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

Apples of Gold

Proverbs 25:11

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

 

Apples of gold in a silver setting? Doesn’t that create a beautiful word picture? Golden apples in a silver bowl–sounds lovely to me. And that’s what the Bible likens our words to if they are fitly spoken.

So what exactly are fitly spoken words? 

I’m sure everyone has a different defintion of that that phrase might mean. To me it’s about speaking kindly to others. Sometimes we may in a position of having to say something that may be unpleasant to another person. But we can always do it with kindness. 

And sometimes the kindest words are the words not spoken. We don’t always have to say everything on our mind in every situation with every person. 

Words fitly spoen are those that we speak after examining ourselves, our motives, and  our attitudes. If the words pass all those tests, then speak them, but speak them in the kindest, most loving way you can.

The world is filled with angry, hars, hurtful, critical, and  hateful words. We don’t have to add to that. As Christians, let’s create apples of gold in silver settings.

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

Best Days Gone???

Isaiah 43: 18

Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past.

Most of the time this verse is made in reference to letting go of past hurts and moving forward in your life but…I think it can be looked at another way. As we age, we tend to think are best days are behind us. That we having nothing to look forward to. That we’ve had our good days, and now we must endure the fall and winter of our lives.

I don’t think so!!

That isn’t what God has in mind for us. So what if we’re older? So what if we have some aches and pains? So what…so what…so what? You can fill in the blanks with your story. Just because we’re older, or have health issues, or are in a bad situation doesn’t mean that all are best days are behind us. It can mean that if we let it.

But we don’t have to let it!

In 2012, I was diagnosed with brain tumors that have left me completely deaf in one ear, partially deaf in the other, balance issues that make it difficult to get around. So, I’m not speaking about something that I don’t know about. Life is much different for me than it was in 2012. I can sit around thinking about how easy life was back then. Or I can make a choice to keep moving forward with my new life, making it the best it can be now!

We can get stuck thinking that the past  were the good days. When we were working–when our children were at home–when we could run that marathon!! But God has a wonderful plan for our life–at every age. If like me you had a BIG change in your life circumstances, then it’s time to rethink your life and find a new plan–not wallow in the past, wishing things could be the way they were.

That’s when it’s time to forget the former things, not dwell on the past, and move forward into a new future.

It won’t be the same as the past but it can be just as wonderful…or even more wonderful!!

TRY IT–YOU’LL LIKE IT!

Psalm 34: 8

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed in the man who takes refuge in Him.

When I read this verse, it immediately took me to a TV commercial. You know the one I mean. Try it, Mikey…you’ll like it! His big brothers were sure he wouldn’t like it. After all, it was supposed to be good for you. And we all know that things that are meant for our good, aren’t actually meant to be enjoyed but rather to be endured.

Right?

Wrong!  Mikey took the bite and liked it.

Developing a relationship with God is much the same way. So many run from a relationship with God. Not because they don’t believe He exists, but because they assume being a Christian isn’t  something to be enjoyed but rather to be endured.

Right?

Wrong! Being a Christian has brought me unspeakable joy. Being a Christian has given me the strength to endure life’s challenges–like bilateral brain tumors. Being a Christian has brought me peace in spite of the difficult things life has thrown at me.

So like Mikey’s brothers I issue you a challenge. Try it…I guarantee you’ll like it.  No–you’ll love it.

But being a Christian isn’t a guarantee that you won’t have problems in your life. In fact, I can guarantee that as well. Jesus assured us that we will have problems. And that’s where the second part of the verse comes in–blessed in the man who takes refuge in Him. 

When life gets difficult (and it will), that’s the time to run to God. To take refuge in Him, not to turn away in anger because you didn’t get your way. It’s the time to remind yourself over and over that God loves you and that His love is perfect.  Romans 8:28 says that God will work all things for the good of those who love Him.

Taking refuge in God means trusting God’s love for us and His promises. It may not be easy to do, especially when we don’t get the happy ending we want, but God promises those of us who take refuge in Him will be blessed.

As for me, I believe Him!

He is my refuge!

I’d love to hear about a time when you took refuge in God.

UNTIL NEXT TIME..GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

GOD’S PLAN OR NOT?

 

Ecclesiastes 11:9

Follow the ways of your heart.

 

So, you want to be a writer and a part of you believes that’s what God wants, too. But really, how presumptuous of you to think you can figure out what God wants, right?

Not right!

I don’t believe Got wants it to be hard for you to know His plan for you. If you spending all your time trying to figure it out, then you won’t have time to actually pursue your dream—God’s plan. God gives each of us abilities, interests, talents, and gifts. When you put them all together, you probably come up with something that you are passionate about.

Very passionate about—that passion is your God-given dream. I mean think about it. God loves you. He doesn’t want you spending your life pursuing a dream that you don’t care about, that doesn’t satisfy you, that makes you crazy. Well maybe that’s not true about the crazy part—writing can make you a little crazy.

I may not have started writing until I was 40, but I always loved books. Now, I’m not talking about enjoying a good book now and then. I LOVED BOOKS!

Once I learned to read, I rarely went anywhere without a book. I can remember pouring over my Scholastic Reader for hours to decide which book I would buy that month. I would spend hours and hours looking at the books in the library. In college, I worked at the bookstore and the library and I loved it.

Especially on Sunday nights at the library, my job was to reshelf books. Ooohh! That meant finding all sorts of books I’d never seen before.

Do you get my point? I loved books. I’d always had stories inside me, but it never occurred to me that others might enjoy my stories as well. When I started writing, it was as if I found that missing part of me. I didn’t even think about getting published at that point, I just loved writing!

Now that doesn’t mean it can’t be hard work, frustrating, or exhausting as well. Because it can be all of those things. I can sit for 6-8-10 hours at a time and write. Not because I have to, but because it’s so much fun! A while back someone asked me how many times I had to read my own book before it was ready to be published. When I told them between 5 and 10 times, they looked at me as if I was crazy.

Now, I admit the last time or two gets a trifle difficult, but I still love writing–even the difficult and boring parts of it!

Following the ways of your heart leads you to what you are passionate about.  Your passion is God’s plan for you! God’s plan equals your dream.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God’s gift to me is my talent. My gift to God is using my talent.

 

QUESTIONS TO PONDER: What am I passionate about? How can I use that passion in my life to glorify God?

 

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS AND GOOD READING!

 

COPING WITH ADVERSITY

Psalm 91:2

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust.

 

My newest release-DEADLY COMMUNICATIONS-features Maven Morris. At the beginning of the story, Maven is depressed! Clinically depressed or just reeling from several life-changing events? I’ll leave that up to the reader to decide, but either way she’s having trouble coping. Her coping mechanism seems to be to stay in bed–a lot!

Maven’s not the only one who has to find a way to cope with adversity. All of us at one time or another will have to. The adversity might be a loss of a loved one; loss of a job; serious health issues; or….the list could go on and on. The point is that life can be tough. As Christians, we need to cope with adversity in a godly way.

In my own life, I’ve been dealing with brain tumors; the effects of the tumors; and the side effects of the treatments for more than two years. Trust me when I say that’s a long time! I have a long list of “issues” these days. Some are permanent, like my balance issues and my hearing loss, unless God chooses to give me a miracle. Others are temporary or at least I’m praying for that.

It hasn’t been easy, but by keeping my eyes on Jesus I’m managing. Actually, I’m more than managing. Just to toot my own horn for a moment, during the time I’ve been ill I’ve written 3 full length novels and 3 novellas as well as done the editing and revisions to get them ready for publication. I can’t say that I’m never depressed or cranky, but I can say that most of the time God’s peace and joy gets me through the day with a smile on my face.

As I started to suffer the side effects of my treatments, I had to make a decision: Was I going to be a fair-weather Christian or was I going to trust God? And there will come a time in each of our lives or more likely many times when we will be tempted to give up or to get angry at God, that’s the time we need to trust God the most.

It may not be easy but it will be worth it!

To celebrate the release of Deadly Communications, I’m having a contest. Leave a comment here and you’ll be entered to win a free copy of DEADLY COMMUNICATIONS.

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

 

 

SUNDAY DEVOTIONS!

For the past few years, I’ve had a devotional blog. But I’m taking a break from that for the time being. Instead, I’m going to add devotions to this blog–probably on Sundays but I might actually post them on Saturday sometimes. After all, we seem to have an extra minute or so on Saturdays. We’ll just have to see how it works out.  I hope you enjoy this one!

 

SEEKING GOOD!

1 Corinthians 10: 24

Nobody should seek his own good but the good of others.

Me! Me! Me! It’s all about me! We’ve become a self-absorbed society. I don’t think many of us could deny that fact, but our life shouldn’t just be about us and what we want!  The Bible tells us to seek good for others. Wow–what a novel concept!

As a writer, this verse convicts me. After all marketing our books and ourselves is as much a part of being a writer as writing stories. And in fact, I think I have an obligation to my publisher to do this as much as possible to the best of my ability. (Even if I don’t like it!)

So, how do we reconcile this Bible verse with the reality of marketing?

For me, it’s about giving back to the writing community that I’m a part of. I do that in a few different ways. First, I give other writers the opportunity to be a guest on my blog. When the opportunity comes up, I also share their information with my circle of  “friends.” I give advice when I think I can add something to the discussion along with encouragement.

In my “other” life, I have to admit I need to improve in this area. I’ve been struggling with serious health issues for more than two years. Believe me when I say there’s nothing like a serious illness to make us selfish. Notice I say us–I certainly include myself in that statement. And in truth, when a serious health issue arrives we do need to focus on ourselves.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t seek good for others as well.

So, with the above verse in mind, I’m issuing a challenge. Find a way this week to do good for someone else and expect nothing back–not even a thank you. Or better yet, do something good for someone anonymously! How about it? Are you up for the challenge?

Once you’ve done it, come back and share your act of goodness with my readers and myself in the comment section. I’ll share mine after I’ve done it as well! Have a blessed week!

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!