Monday, August 31, 2015

The courts of our God!

My all time favorite psalm is Psalm 84.  It paints such a gorgeous picture of a loving all-powerful King who adores His children and who helps them along their journey only to welcome them into His home and adopt them into His family. 

The psalmist starts off by talking about how he yearns, even pines, and is homesick for the courts of the Lord.

How lovely are Your tabernacles, O Lord of hosts!
 My soul yearns, yes, even pines and is homesick for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out and sing for joy to the living God.

It made me wonder how many of us actually are homesick for heaven.  I meet so many believers who are so caught up in this life, they rarely give it much thought.  For me, heaven is becoming all the more real with each year that passes. Maybe it's because I'm getting older. Maybe it's because I've lived long enough to know that NOTHING in this world satisfies, that only the love of God makes me feel alive and gives me purpose. Honestly, I'm just excited to see my Father. I never had an earthly father, so I plan on crawling up in God's lap and getting a big hug!  

Yet heaven is much more than that. It is a magnificent city with tons of gorgeous houses and parks and lakes and gardens. And in the center is a court, a throne room where God rules. It is pageantry and majesty and ceremony!  Just think of all the great movies and fairytales you've seen with Kings and princes and princesses and all the pomp and glitter of the court. Heaven's court will be beyond anything we can even imagine! 


 The Psalmist continues talking about how though we have trouble on our way to Heaven, God will bless our trouble and turn it into blessing

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
 Passing through the Valley of Weeping , they make it a place of springs; the early rain also fills the pools with blessings.
 They go from strength to strength, increasing in victorious power, each of them appears before God in Zion.


 And then he states one of my favorite verses in the Bible.

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else; I would rather be a doorkeeper and stand at the threshold in the house of my God than to dwell at ease  in the tents of wickedness.

For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows grace and favor and future glory honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly


So, don't dismay. As the Apostle Paul said in Romans 8
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Be comforted with these thoughts!

 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Need help with Raven Saint Cover!

Hi everyone! I'm back from my writers' retreat at Lake Tahoe. It was fabulous. We had about 10 attendees, all staying in this gorgeous cabin in the woods around Lake Tahoe. Susanne Lakin and I held a morning session of instruction and then we had one-on-ones with each attendee to go over their writing and answer any questions. I met some incredibly wonderful people with fascinating lives and really cool stories. Some people there weren't Christians and it is my utmost prayer that just hanging around with God's children planted some seeds in their hearts. I also pray I was able to help some of them with their writing!

Some of you are fans of Tamara Leigh and her fabulous medieval romances! Well, I got to meet her. She's super sweet and fun. I wish I'd had more time to get to know her. Here's a picture of me, her, and Susanne Lakin.  



NEED HELP!  OPINIONS PLEASE!   I just received the comps from my cover designer for possible covers for The Raven Saint.  For those of you who haven't read it, I'll post the back cover blurb below. The backgrounds can be swapped, and I believe the hero and heroine can be swapped (have to check on that)  So, leave me a comment and pick your favorite one or your favorite two!   Thanks! 

The Raven Saint



Grace Westcott has spent her entire life serving God and helping the poor—not to mention trying to save the souls of her two wayward sisters. But while on an errand of mercy, she is kidnapped by a French mercenary and told she will be sold to a Spanish Don in Columbia.
Determined to hold on to her faith and see God in every situation, she believes she must have been sent to help someone find God’s love. But no one will listen to her please, warnings, and prayers.
When Grace’s situation grows far worse than she could imagine, she is forced to face her own human weaknesses. But she isn’t prepared to face her biggest weakness of all—falling in love with the nefarious Captain Rafe Dubois.
Will Grace discover god’s purpose for this harrowing journey? And what will she do when she realizes His purpose for her is not to redeem the captain and his crew, but herself?

Mock 1



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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Songs of Joy!


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The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.  

Psalm 65:8

 

 

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Monday, August 24, 2015

When tragedy strikes.....

My pastor gave a great sermon yesterday on fleeing from temptation, but in the middle of his talk he spoke about a personal tragedy that had struck his family just last week. His three year old was rushed to the hospital with a fever of over 105 and the doctors said she may have cancer.  It took 36 hours for the test results to return with a negative diagnosis, but during those 36 hours and while his precious little girl was undergoing all sorts of painful tests, he began to question God. 

How we as Christians react when tragedy comes our way is one of the best indications of our faith and our walk with God. There are usually two different ways believers react:

1. Why, God, Why? Why is this happening to me? I'm a good person. I go to church, pray, read my Bible, give to charities, volunteer for various ministries, even go on mission trips!! 

OR

2. I must have done something wrong. Surely God is punishing me.

Both reactions have ONE answer... and that answer is Jesus.

 Jesus never sinned. He was flawless in all his doings, thoughts, and actions. Can you imagine? I can't. Yet He was perfect in every way. If anyone deserved to live a life of comfort and happiness without suffering, it was Him. Yet, His 33 years here on earth were nothing but suffering. In fact, I venture to say He suffered more than any other human being who ever existed.  So, the answer to the first question is that if Jesus suffered so much and He was perfect, why should we expect not to suffer in our lives? In fact Jesus Himself said that we would suffer

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.  John 16:33


And the Apostle Paul said

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:17
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, Phill 1:29
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  Phil 3:10

Yet, the answer to the second question is Jesus also. God does not punish us for our sins, our mistakes, our flaws. Why?  Because Jesus already paid the penalty for ALL of them, Past, Present and Future.!!

So, what is our correct response when tragedy strikes?
Let's take our example from the Old Testament story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3.  Upon their refusal to bow down to the King's image, King Neb threatened to toss them into a fiery furnace.  Talk about a tragedy!   I LOVE their response.

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

Our response?  Pray, cast your cares upon God. Trust Him, Honor Him, Love Him, and serve Him, no matter whether He heals that cancer or saves that loved one or gets you that job or restores your marriage or brings you a spouse.  No matter if you get tossed into a fiery furnace or are threatened with losing your head.  God is able to do all things and often does perform miracles in our lives and delivers us, but even if He doesn't, we trust Him.  And just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we will find that Jesus is right there in the fiery furnace with us.


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Wednesday, August 19, 2015



But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?” 

Luke 8:23-26 



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Monday, August 17, 2015

Household Salvation

Like me, many of you have loved ones who don't know Jesus, family members, who stubbornly resist the pull of the Holy Spirit, dig in their heels, and insist there is no God.  It's heartbreaking!  For many years I struggled with enormous, tormenting fear that my children would end up in hell. I actually pictured them there and even begged God to put me there instead of them.  God has since delivered me of that fear in the form of several promises He has spoken to me personally. (Note to self: Share that with you some time)  But what I'd like to do today is share a passage from one of my favorite books.  Come Away My Beloved by Francis Roberts.   I hope it blesses you as much as it has me over the years


Oh, my child, I have loved you with an everlasting love, and with strong cords I have bound you to Myself. In the day of adversity, I have been your refuge, and in the hour of need, I have held you up and you have found your strength in Me. You have seen My goodness on the right hand and on the left. You have beheld My Power, and My glory has not been hidden from you.

I have blessed you out of the bounties of heaven and have not withheld for you what your heart has desired. Yes, and I would do still more. For have I not promised that you and your household should be saved? Wasn't the blood applied to the lintel and the doorposts for the salvation of the entire family? (See Exodus 12:22-23)

So renew your energies, and know that I am working with you. For surely a light will shine out of the darkness, and the faith you have exercised through the years will be rewarded one hundredfold. So your faith will be turned to sight, for you will see with your eyes and hear with your ears and rejoice in your heart over what will come to pass.

I will do a wonderful work, and you shall praise and glorify My name together!  For He that keeps you neither slumbers nor sleeps. The Lord your God is your strength, and in Him is no weariness. He never tires of you coming to Him, and your cry is welcome to His ears however frequent.

Cast yourself upon His mercies for His loving kindness never fails, and His grace and compassion are inexhaustible. His faithfulness is extended to all generations.






Friday, August 14, 2015

Off to Lake Tahoe and FIRST LINES!

Next Wednesday, I'm packing my bags, hopping in my old jalopy (aka, my old, beat-up car -- Prayers that it doesn't break down would be appreciated!)  And heading to beautiful Lake Tahoe. There, in a gorgeous cabin by the lake, I'll be co-teaching a writer's retreat with my good friend and fellow author Susanne Lakin!  There are 8 attendees, along with some spouses hitching along for the ride.

Susanne and her husband used to run a bed and breakfast so they know how to make everyone comfortable and she's hired a chef to cook gourmet meals!   I'm excited and it should be a lot of fun and I hope and pray I will be able to help these writers with their craft.

One of the things Susanne and I hope to discuss is how to grab a reader in the first ten pages.  So often I read novels and manuscripts where I literally have to force myself to finish at least five chapters. If I'm not interested by then, I will put the book down. It may very well end up to be a fabulous novel, but for me, I simply don't have time to keep reading and find out. Let's face it, there are a ton of other books out there to try.

I believe this is just a reflection of our busy, fast, mind-accelerating culture where most people can do ten things at once and hop from one thing to another without reflection. Just pick up an old classic like The Three Musketeers or one of Hemmingway's books, and I guarantee you'll wonder why they were so popular in the day. Well, not only are the authors fabulous, but honestly, people had a ton more patience 50 years to 100 years ago. Life was slower. No TV in every home and no TV at all until around the 1930s-40s. People actually talked to each other rather then stared at their iphones. Moms stayed home for the most part. Things of quality were made instead of mass produced, and there was no such thing as fast food. Plus people read. They read a lot.

But these days a writer has to grab a reader's attention sometimes as early as the first line or two or chances are something else will grab them away. How to do that in such limited space is the trick. I don't believe I've perfected it yet, but I have learned much over the years.  I thought you'd like to read some of the first lines I'm going to use as examples.  I have the authors' permission to post these. In fact, if the first line grabs you, why not go and order the book!
 
 Cruising the sparkling aisles of Catalano's Supermarket, I lost my sanity buying frozen apple juice.  Christa Allan WALKING ON BROKEN GLASS

The first time Jeremy heard God sing, we were in the old Ford, rocking back and forth with the wind, snow pounding at the window to get inside, where it wasn’t much better than out there.”  THE SILENCE OF MURDER, Knopf/Random House, winner of 2012 Edgar Award  Dandi Mackall

There once was a girl who’d been praying for a husband since the fourth grade. - MY STUBBORN HEART, Becky Wade

The moment his wife set a steaming bowl of chicken and dumplings on the dinner table, Al Richardson knew she was up to something.” – THE ROOM WITH THE SECOND-BEST VIEW, Virginia Smith

The nun hit me in the mouth and said, "Get out of my house." - TRY DARKNESS, James Scott Bell

April 1865
Delia ran as hard as she could.
All the while, terror nipped at her heels.
Had Massuh set the hounds on her?
Ungrateful!
Lazy!
Worthless!
God will punish you!
Plantation voices screamed in her head, but she ran anyway.
Nothing in her hand. Nothing in her pockets. Nothing in her heart but fear. Nothing in her head but blind determination never to be beaten again. Never to be spit on. Never to have her hair torn out by a vicious young mistress.  THEN CAME HOPE, Louise M. Gouge

If there was one thing Josie Miller knew, it was the smell of a rich man. And whoever had just walked into the diner smelled like Fort Knox. HER UNLIKELY FAMILY Missy Tippens

Even I would have killed for thee.  DREAMSPELL, Tamara Leigh

Isabelle was neither slave nor free, with no past save the one she invented for herself during her daytime musings and nighttime dreams.    —  BELOVED CASTAWAY, Kathleen Y'Barbo

The cool metal of the Morgan silver dollar warmed as it rolled over Gabe’s knuckles and between his fingers. One thing he’d learned in the last nine years was how to read people, and the cocky cowpoke at the bar looked ripe for the picking.  GABRIEL'S ATONEMENT, Vickie McDonough

Charity had killed her husband  CHARITY'S CROSS,  MaryLu Tyndall


So, what do you all think ??  Thoughts on first lines?



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