2023 Word of the Year

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So a few days ago, I promised to share my 2023 Word of the Year. And here it is…FAITHFUL.

So let me tell you how I “found” this word. One of my FB friends posted about how difficult 2020, 2021, and 2022 have been. My comment to her was that these past few years made me very appreciative of biblical Jews as they struggled through very difficult circumstances for hundreds of years and yet they never lost their belief that God is FAITHFUL.

I thought about how the Jewish people remained faithful during those 400 long years when they heard nothing from God. There were no prophets to bring them God’s Word, but they remained faithful that God was faithful.

So FAITHFUL is my Word of the Year.

I want to focus on the fact that God is faithful even when life is difficult, even when life doesn’t go the way we want, even when we can’t feel Him.

Here’s a few verses that I came across about God’s faithfulness.

Deuteronomy 7: 9

 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

Hebrews 10: 23

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

What beautiful verses!

Happy New Year! May God bless you in the coming year.

2022 Word of the Year

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So writers like to do nerdy things like have a Word of the Year that they focus on as part of the Bible meditations. Last year, I had planned on NOT having a word of the year.

No particular reason, I just wasn’t feeling it. But in between Christmas and New Year’s, I was walking on my treadmill and a word popped into my head.

HEALING

And there it was my word of the year. Now being a flawed human being, I thought that word was about ME and my healing.

After all, I live with bilateral brain tumors, had recently started back on treatment for them, and have more than enough struggles to make my days interesting.

But I was wrong.

As the year went on, I developed more compassion for other people’s suffering, especially physical suffering (something I know about). My prayer life began to reflect that compassion.

I wish I could tell you that I’m ending this year healthier (physically) than I began it. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. And that brings me to 2023’s Word of the Year which is…

I’ll tell you soon!

2022–HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Oh my goodness, it’s been a while since I’ve been here and I apologize for that. I hate to admit it, but I’ve been struggling as far as my writing goes. I submitted two stories to my publisher back in May and then BAM! I seemed to have lost all interest in writing. I would start a story but stop after a few pages, then I’d try a different story with the same results.

I just couldn’t focus on writing or anything to do with writing.

And that made me feel somewhat lost but…I decided not to panic so I took a break.

About a week before Christmas, I opened my email to find a letter from my publisher offering me a 3-book contract for a series I’d forgotten I’d even submitted to her along with contracts for the two stories I submitted in May. So that’s a contract for FIVE different books!

A few days after the contracts, the one story I was having trouble with came to mind. And in like a 30-second window, I saw how I needed to change the story to make it work so…I’m writing again.

And that makes me happy!

Life is often like that. We are way too quick to panic when something goes wrong or doesn’t go the way we expect. Instead of panicking, we need to take a step back, take some deep breaths, and focus on God. It will work out one way or another, panic, worry, and depression make nothing better.

So as we enter into a new year, let’s make a commitment to focus more on God and less on anxiety, worry and depression.

Me and Intermittent Fasting!

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I know this is a longer post than usual, but I hope you’ll find it interesting enough to read to the end.

Before I get into my story about intermittent fasting (IF), let me explain very briefly what IF is. It is a period of time when you do NOT eat or drink anything. You can drink water, black coffee or plain tea. No diet drinks. No flavored coffees. Nothing with calories can be consumed during your fast. Period.

Eating or drinking calories is the opposite of fasting.

If you want to learn more about IF, I highly recommend Gin Stephens’ books. Fast, Feast, Repeat and/or Delay, Don’t Deny. Both books will tell you the science behind IF and why it’s such a healthy way to live.

I started Intermittent Fasting (IF) on April 7, 2021. And as with life things didn’t go exactly the way I’d planned, but I’ll get to that later.

I had several goals. One and what seemed most important at the time was to lose ten pounds. My second goal was to normalize my relationship with food. And my third goal was to boost my metabolism.

Let’s start with the last goal first. After ten years of being on a fairly strict diet most of those ten years, it seemed to me that my metabolism was way low. I don’t have any scientific proof of that but any time I would eat more than salad, a piece of chicken, and some fruit for dessert I’d gain weight.

I was so, so, so tired of not being able to eat like everybody else. So, I’d restrict my food intake and then have my cheat days where I would binge, which brings me to my second goal of normalizing my relationship with food.

I wanted to not be obsessed with food. I wanted to stop worrying about every bite of food I put in my mouth. I wanted to make healthy choices but still enjoy eating.

When I started IF I wanted to lose 10 pounds. I was a lifetime member of a certain weight loss organization and was about 10 (9 actually) pounds over my goal weight.

So those were my 3 goals. Gin Stephens recommends starting with a 28 day plan where you don’t weight yourself and all you worry about is making sure you clean fast every day.

No calories to count. No points to calculate. Just using your own good sense when eating. I must say I threw out my good sense and ate—a lot! After the end of the 28 days, I hadn’t lost any weight, but I hadn’t gained either—and I really did eat a lot! I was happy!

And that’s what I did for the next few months. I ate what I wanted but would fast anywhere from 18 to 21 hours every day. And I still didn’t gain any weight—amazing!

But then I decided it was time to start making healthier food choices so I could lose that ten pounds. I decided to go back to that weight loss organization. And in the first month, I lost 5 pounds.

HAPPY DANCE!

And then life happened. I’ve had bilateral brain tumors for the past ten years but they’d been stable since 2016 without any need for treatment. But that all changed in August when we discovered one of the tumors was growing again and that I would need treatment.

My plan was to stay with my weight loss meetings, IF, and do my treatments. I really wanted to lose that last 5 pounds. But the day after my first treatment, I realized my plan wasn’t going to work. I

So I gave up on the weight loss meetings, but I’ve been doing IF consistently (except when I’m not feeling so good.)

So let’s take a look at my three goals.

I quickly gained back the five pounds I’d lost. Thanks to the treatments and the holidays. As of today, I’ve lost 3.6 pounds and only need to lose 5.6 to get back to my goal weight. But here’s the amazing things, I’ve lost 22.5 inches off my body–5 off my waist and 6 off my hips. If you want to know how and why that happened, you’ll need to read Gin’s books. I’m not scientific enough to explain it.

I have eaten A LOT this past year. Healthy foods. And pizza. And lots of my favorite things—namely pastries of all sorts. I pretty much eat what I want during my eating window. I haven’t lost all of the 10 pounds, but I know that’s because of my food choices, not because IF doesn’t work.

It obviously does work. If I’d eaten the way I have the past year and not fasted, I would have probably gained at least 25 or 30 pounds.

So what’s next for me amd IF?

I plan to start making healthier choices when eating so that I can get back to my goal weight. For me that means lowering my carb intake and especially cutting back on the “sweets.”

I’ve also added the spiritual component of fasting into my life, which has brought a new level of understanding and commitment to the act of IF.

I’ll keep you posted when I get back to my goal weight which hopefully won’t take a full year. I know this has been a long post.

Thanks for listening!

God Bless and Good Reading!

Give Thanks in all Circumstances?

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1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Happy April Fool’s Day!

On April 1, 2012, I developed Bell’s palsy which is an inflammation of the facial nerve. My doctor insisted I have an MRI to make sure nothing else was happening. Of course there was something happening, and from there I was diagnosed with bilateral acoustic neuromas and a genetic condition called Neurofibromatosis Type 2.

Early on, I made a commitment to God that I would remain faithful during the journey, which is actually a lifetime journey. And I do my best with that commitment, even though I’m not perfect.

The above verse however sort of stuck in my craw, as they say. I understand that the verse says give thanks IN all circumstances, not FOR all circumstances. Still my stubborn little self refused to believe that I would ever rejoice or be thankful for my brain tumors but…

Ten years later, I’m a different person than I was on April 1, 2012. My health will never be as good as it was on that day. I struggle in many different ways but… even though I’m not thankful FOR the tumors, I am thankful for the new relationship with God that was forged from them.

During these past ten years, I’ve learned just how faithful God is. I’ve learned that I can depend on him to give me the strength to endure the battles I face. I’ve learned that God keeps his promises. I’m so thankful for the peace and joy He gives me each day to not just face another day, but to enjoy that day. I’m so thankful that I’m still able to write books that will glorify God while entertaining others.

Now when I read this verse:

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I understand it’s actually a to do list to help get me through the difficult challenges.

Rejoice always.

Pray continually.

Give thanks in all circumstances.

God never promises life will be easy. God never promises that you won’t have challenges or even tragedies. But he promises never to leave us. He promises to turn ashes into beauty.

The advice to do these three things (rejoice, pray, give thanks) in the midst of your circumstances will help you survive and even thrive, no matter what the circumstances are!

God is good.

Word of the Year

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Writers like words! So many writers–especially Christian writers–choose a word to focus on for the year. And I’m sure lots of non-writers do the same.

I didn’t have a word for next year–and had no plans to choose a word. But as I was exercising this morning THE WORD popped into my brain. God’s like that. He’ll give you things you aren’t even looking for!

The word…. drumroll…. is HEALING. It will be my prayer word for the year (or as long as I feel the need for it).

HEALING for this country that I love.

HEALING for those who are sick.

HEALING for those who are lost and hurting.

HEALING for those with Neurofibromatosis. (Don’t know what it is? Look it up. I have Type 2).

HEALING for myself as I go through treatment once again for my brain tumors.

May God bless you in the coming year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

God Bless and Good Reading!

Today’s Poem

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So I issued a poetry challenge for myself–and anyone else that wants to play a few days ago. I admit I’ve missed a day or so. I couldn’t come up with any ideas so I turned to my favorite book–The Bible. Today’s poem is inspired by Psalm 16: 8

Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN

Oh, Lord.

I will not be shaken.

I will not be shaken.

I will not be shaken.

Oh, Lord.

I will not be shaken because you are with me, with me, with me.

You are with me in the dark, Oh, Lord.

You are with me in the pain, Oh, Lord.

You are with me in the storms, Oh, Lord.

I will not be shaken.

I will not be shaken.

I will not be shaken.

Because you are with me, Oh, Lord.

YOUR TURN: I’d love for some of you to share a poem with us.

God Bless & Good Reading!

Poetry Challenge?

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Are you up for a poetry challenge? Writing poetry is a good way to stretch those creative muscles–no matter what genre you write in. So, I’ve decided to write a poem every day for the next thirty days. I’m probably not going to share every poem with you, but here’s day one’s poem.

LOOK AROUND, MY CHILD.

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, Lord.

Thank you, my child.

What would you have me do, Lord?

Look around, my child.

Yes, Lord. I see the beauty of your creation.

Look around once more, my child.

Don’t you see?

Don’t you see the hungry child?

Don’t you see the angry teen?

Don’t you see the lonely, the sick, and the hurting?

Don’t you see your neighbor in need?

Yes, Lord. But what can I do?

Love them as I love you.

Yes, Lord.

There’s my first attempt. I’d love for some of you to share your poetry with me. It doesn’t have to be serious or spiritual. It can be fun or downright silly. So…what have you got for me?

The Paris Betrayal–Book Review

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The Paris Betrayal

THE PARIS BETRAYAL by James R. Hannibal is one of the best books I’ve read in years! I loved it. But then again, I love spy novels. This is not a sweet and gentle read. If that’s what you enjoy, this isn’t the book for you. But if you like mystery and lots of action, you’ll love this book. There’s twists and turns that will keep you guessing right up to the end.

My one complaint is that it doesn’t have a strong spiritual component to the story. But being able to read a good spy novel without having to skip every other word because they’re objectionable is a win-win situation as far as I’m concerned.

It’s that time again!!

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It’s that time again. I have a new book releasing today! Suffer The Little Children is the third and final (probably) installment in the Puzzle House Series.

AMAZON LINK

Just as a refresher, Puzzle House is the book I lovingly refer to as the book I never wanted to write. It features a character with the same brain tumors as a result of Neurofibromatosis Type 2 that I have. If I hadn’t developed the brain tumors, then I never would have written Puzzle House. Therefore; it’s the book I never wanted to write.

But God is good. Romans 8: 28 tells us that God can work all things out for the good of those who love him. Puzzle House is one of the good things that came out of my brain tumors. It was a finalist in The Carol Awards, a national book award for excellence in Christian Fiction.

That was a lot of fun and very exciting–even if I didn’t win.

Right now, Puzzle House and the second (The David Years) in the series is on sale for 99 cents!

AMAZON LINK FOR PUZZLE HOUSE

AMAZON LINK FOR THE DAVID YEARS

Of course, you can read Suffer The Little Children without having read the other books and still understand the story. Either way works. Suffer The Little Children comes full circle and brings the reader back to Puzzle House where some surprises wait along with a few miracles.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

There comes a moment in every Christian’s life when he must decide if his faith is real—or not.

For Nia Johnson-Simpson that time is now.

Nia has prepared for this moment for years. It’s time for her to step into her role as the next spiritual leader at Puzzle House. The plan is for her to work side-by-side with her new husband, but things don’t go as planned.

As Nia struggles with these unforeseen changes, she must decide what she truly believes…and what she’s willing to give up to continue God’s work.

Oooh, that sounds mysterious, doesn’t it? And I know what happens. It’s an interesting story with spiritual lessons we can all use.

God Bless & Good Reading!