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Are You In The Habit of Daily Bible Reading?

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Instead of focusing on one particular Scripture passage I want to talk, in general, about reading a daily devotion. In the past I wanted to read a chapter or a few verses every day, but life always seemed to get in the way. Weeks would go by and I wouldn’t open my Bible except on Sunday morning at church.

That all changed for me with a gift I received from my daughter this past Christmas. For something a little extra she gave me one of those desk calendars where each daily page has something written on it to think about that day. Well, the one she gave me has daily Bible verses. This was perfect for me.

I tried using the quarterly devotional booklets, but I’d read the verse, then read what the writer wrote about it. That was OK, however, I was not really digging into it deep enough.  With this new calendar I had my answer.

Every day starting January 1, 2017 I’ve read not only the verse on the calendar, but the whole chapter where it’s found. Since there is no one else’s interpretation of the passage written with the verse I can form my own. Before I read I pray, asking God to show me which verse or verses I should focus on that day. It’s not always the verse on the calendar that jumps out at me. I’ll read the chapter and then go back and re-read the verses that popped out. I’ve added an extra dimension to my daily reading. I write in a journal each day what the focused verses are telling me, personally. This has given me a whole new perspective to the daily reading.

There have been some days where nothing grabs me, but those days are extremely few. That’s OK. I’ve still read my Bible that day.

Since I began this daily journey, my relationship with the Lord has grown. I feel His presence more. I’m chatting with Him more throughout the day. And my detailed prayer time has blossomed.

If you want to develop the habit of daily Bible reading there are numerous resources out there to use as a trigger to get you into the habit. I just wanted to share with you today the resource that has helped me a lot.

Developing a heart-felt habit of reading Scripture daily will take a desire to want to do it. It’s not an easy habit to get into, but the initial effort it takes is worth it. After a while you will begin to feel uneasy if you don’t read your Bible each day. Daily Bible reading will change how you approach God. I have never felt closer to Him than I do now since traveling on this daily journey with Him.

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struggles-3The book of Job is one I don’t think we read often, but we should. Today I read chapter 12 and found some verses I really had not noticed before. Job was living a great life. He had everything he needed or wanted. Then one day Satan wanted to test Job to see if his faith in God was real and not just based on the good life. So God let Satan do his thing and Job lost everything, family, possessions, and his own health. His friends kept asking him, “What did you do so wrong for all this to happen?” The following verses are one of his replies.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”   Job 12:7-10

Many times we can’t make sense of things when we are hit with struggles and bad times. Like Job’s friends we ask “Why?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” We cannot find a reason.

But God has a reason. Maybe the situation is to make us stronger. Perhaps we’ve closed our eyes to something and God wants to open them again. Or maybe our relationship with Him has faded and He wants us to come back to Him.

Whatever the reason, we need to remember – GOD IS IN CONTROL. He definitely has a purpose in mind when He sends things our way, either joys or struggles. Stay close to Him. Lean on Him. Put your faith and trust in Him. God is faithful and He will get you through.

Back to Job’s story. Once Satan realized that he could not shake Job’s faith in God he stopped tormenting Job. Then God restored Job’s life even better than he had before.

Are you going through a struggle right now? Do things look hopeless? Get on your knees and cry out to God. He will hear you. The struggle probably won’t go away immediately, but you will realize you are not alone. God is holding your hand and will guide you through this time of turmoil. And when you reach the other side of it you will see the faithfulness of the Lord and sunshine will return in your life.

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peaceful-sleep

 

I am working on a study of the Psalms. Today I read Psalms 4.  Verse 8 struck me: “I will lie down and sleep in peace,  for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

There are many nights I go to bed but can’t sleep because my mind won’t shut off. Worries from the day, stuff for work that needs to be done, or Satan messing with my mind, all these things have hindered my sleep.

There is one episode in my life that Satan has brought back to me frequently as I’ve tried to sleep and that was when my mother died.  She was coming up the outside stairs to enter my home when she suddenly stopped and fell backwards down the steps. She died of a head injury when she hit the cement. Many times for years afterwards Satan would have me relive that experience in my mind when I was trying to sleep, planting guilt that I didn’t do enough to save her from falling. Even though the doctor told me she had a stroke at the top of the stairs causing her fall and there would have been nothing I could have done, Satan made me think I blew it and let my mom die.

Each time I’d get that vision in my head I prayed to God to make it vanish. Each time God answered my prayer and I was able to get a restful night’s sleep. God showed me that her death was not my fault and now Satan can no longer attack me with that vision.

What keeps you from getting a good night’s sleep?  What causes your mind to race when you just want it to empty into nothingness so you can fall asleep? Your issue might be that you can’t get work out of your mind or your day was so full of anxiety it seeps into the night time hours.  Whatever keeps your mind from shutting down bring it to God. While you are lying in bed open your heart and mind to Him. Ask Him to make the thoughts and anxieties vanish so you can sleep. He will answer you and provide the rest you need.

It is comforting to know we have a God who cares so much for us in even the little things like a giving us a good night’s sleep. We don’t have to suffer. God is always available to help.

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americawhatsgoingon

I realize not everyone is happy regarding the results of the election last week. But whether you voted for him or not, Donald Trump is our new President-elect. This is a time of transition for our country. It’s a time for us to become united and give Mr. Trump a chance.

Hove you forgotten who is really in control?  It’s not us. It’s not the politicians. It’s the Lord God Almighty.

These protests taking place are not doing anyone any good. In fact, property is being damaged and people are getting hurt. Why? Because you’re not happy with who won the election? I’m sorry to say this, but these actions are ridiculous and will not change anything.

The Apostle Paul has told us what to do it we disagree with each other. We’re not to fight. We’re not to cause other people harm or destroy property. Here is what we are supposed to do:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything in prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,  present your requests to God.”   Philippians 4:6

Tell God about your anger, your frustrations. Let Him deal with them. And be thankful that we live in a country that has free and open elections.

In every election there are those who get elections and those who don’t. I’ve voted in many presidential elections and I don’t remember any resulting in such turmoil as is happening now.

Instead of putting such violent focus on the election results, we need to focus on what God stands for.  “Finally, brothers (and sisters), whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”    Philippians 4:8

Put your energy into practicing righteous actions “and the God of peace will be with you.”  Philippians 4:9b

Let’s unite, America. Let’s do what we can to make America great again. One man can’t do it alone. It will take all of us working together. It’s time to show the world that America is strong, that we are a country to be reckoned with, and that we are a country united “UNDER GOD”.

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afraid-of-this-election-2

We have a big election in two days. I’m not here to tell you who or who not to vote for. That alone is your decision to make. In a couple days a new President of the United States will be elected. I’ve heard many people say they are afraid for our country no matter which candidate wins. All we can do is exercise our right to vote. Then we live our lives the best we can no matter what changes are made at the various levels of government.

America is not the Christian country it once was. Christians have faded into the woodwork and have not truly spoken out as a group for years. Therefore, things have drastically changed. This country will definitely see change, on way or another, after this election. So where does that leave us?

David answered that question in Psalm 56:4 – “In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”

Government leaders come and go. The one who is ultimately in charge, now and always, is the Lord God Almighty. Wile on this earth we need to live with the worldly rules and situations that befall us. We also have the responsibility to legally try to change things that don’t follow Christian values. But most of all we must stay focused on God. We may go through experiences that are uncomfortable for us, but as David said, “What can mortal man do to me?”

We have to live in this world and we may not like it, but we need to remember that God is in control of all things. We can’t trust the government officials to look out for our best interest. However, we can trust God because He only has our best interest in His mind and heart. Life might become tougher for us in America, but we have God’s promises that He will stand by us; He’ll give us the strength and courage we need; and we have a place with Him through Jesus Christ.

Be sure to vote. Don’t be afraid. No matter who wins, put your trust in God who is the final Authority.

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What My Novel Is About

I have written the Prologue and first five chapters of my novel titled From Dream To Nightmare. Here is the Prologue. Please read it and let me know what you think. Does it leave you wanting to read more?

 

The door closes. There’s no turning back.

“What am I doing on this plane? Have I completely lost my mind?”  As Laurel Martin settles into her seat on a plane bound for Amsterdam, these and other doubts flood her mind. Embarking on an adventure of a lifetime, Laurel wonders if it is such a good idea. But it’s too late now to change her plans.

The approach of a distinguished-looking gentleman taking the seat next to her interrupts her thoughts. He smiles. She smiles back. As the video plays demonstrating the various safety items, Laurel searches the pocket of the seat in front of her for “the bag” in case she needs it. The FASTEN SEATBELT sign flashes and the plane begins its journey to the runway for take-off. Laurel takes a deep breath and grabs the arms of her seat.

The gentleman notices the signs of anxiety. “Is this your first time on a plane?

Laurel fakes a slight laugh. “It’s not my first time on a plane, but it is my first time on such a long flight, alone, to somewhere I’ve never been before.”

“By the way, I’m Steve.”

“I’m Laurel. Nice to meet you.”

“You’ll love Amsterdam. I’ve been there several times. Maybe I could show you around or, at least, give you some suggestions of things to see.”

“Thank you,” says Laurel, “but Amsterdam is just a layover for me. My final destination is Niarobi, Kenya.”

As the plane takes off and sets its course, Steve and Laurel enter into conversation. She tells him she is a recently retired U.S. History teacher who has traveled frequently throughout the States.

“Now that I’m no longer teaching I decided to go somewhere more adventurous. I’ve always dreamed of going on an African safari. I’m making that dream a reality. I hope I don’t regret this decision.”

“It sounds quite exciting to me,” says Steve. “I’ve traveled to many parts of the world, but never to Africa.”

The gentle hum of the plane engine and the pleasant conversation with Steve have a calming effect on Laurel. She releases her grip on the arms and her breathing becomes more natural. She and Steve enjoy the meal served to them about an hour into the flight, then prepare to watch the movie. It is a comedy which does wonders for easing Laurel’s tension. The rest of the trip to Amsterdam is relaxing, mostly due to Steve’s presence.

The eight-hour flight goes by too quickly. Steve and Laurel disembark from the plane, chatting the entire time as they walk through the terminal.

“Best of luck to you on your adventure. I’m sure it will be filled with all sorts of memories for you,” Steve says as he gives Laurel’s hand a little squeeze.

Laurel responds with a smile and a squeeze back. “Thank you for being a stable force for me on this part of my journey.”

Steve goes toward the baggage claim and Laurel heads to the gate for her final fight to Kenya. Both turn toward each other at the same time, smile, and wave good-bye.

 

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Research and More Research

WIM000762.JPGhy in the world did I decide to use a real location for my story? A fictitious place would be so much easier to write about. Oh well, I need an actual site for the plot I’m developing so I must make the most of it.

I am finding that the more research I do, the more I have to keep doing. Not only do I need to describe streets, buildings, scenic views as they really are, I need to know customs, what to wear, what to eat, what should a woman traveling alone watch out for.  The list goes on.

I feel like the road is closed right now. I just want to write my story. However, I know if I don’t pay attention to accurate details my credibility goes right down the tubes. No wonder it takes so long to write a book. I know a lot of research is needed for non-fiction writing. I never realized the amount needed for fiction as well.Therefore I’ll keep studying street maps, looking at pictures online so I can write detailed descriptions, reading guide books, etc. I need to do the construction work to get the road open to write.

Of course, I want to write the best novel I can and if it means I need to spend hours doing research I’ll do it. I do have to admit that I can’t wait until I can get into the meat of writing the story again, but for now I have to bite the bullet and get the research done.

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The Writing Saga Continues

942436_10200539607545673_710765186_nI love Saturday mornings. That is when I have a large block of time to devote to writing. I quickly make my breakfast and get the coffee going, then I sit at my dining room table and begin. Everything is within reach that I need to make the most of this time.

The prologue, epilogue, and chapter 1 are written. My protagonist (Laurel) has arrived in Kenya and is settled in the hotel she will be staying for a couple nights before moving on. I am to a point in the story where I have to stop and do more research before going any further. If my main character is going to explore Nairobi I have to make it real. I need to know the customs and culture. I want my readers to experience Nairobi through my writing, to be able to picture in their minds what Laurel is seeing and doing. I found two great books on Kenya and a street map of Nairobi.

I am thinking the rest of this morning and probably next Saturday morning will be spent on jotting down notes as I read through the books and study the map. I really want to write, but I don’t want to make things up about a real place as I go along. Research is so important to writing, even when writing fiction. When I write short stories there is not much research involved, if any. I can usually draw from personal experience. However, I’ve discovered writing a novel is a whole different ballgame. Thank goodness I enjoy doing research.

Each time I sit down to work on this project I’m filled with excitement, wondering what’s going to happen next, who will Laurel meet, what will she experience. I have my basic ideas, but things I never thought of keep popping up as I write. Writing a novel is hard work, but it’s also so much fun.

As I go along I will be bringing my writing to my critique group to read so they can give me suggestions. They are of wonderful group of writers who inspire and encourage me. I value their input and I’ve seen my writing improve over the years because of being part of a supporting critique group. If you are a writer, no matter what you write, I encourage you to find a critique group to join.

That’s all for today. I must get back to my research. Please leave comments. I would love to hear about the journeys of other writers.

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Don’t Dwell On The Past – Look Ahead To The Future

2015 is done. There were good and bad times for me. My oldest grandchild got her driver’s license. My youngest had his first birthday. I received the news that another grandchild is on the way. My daughter got a teaching job she loves. My son got his Associates Degree and a job offer. The not so good times included an uncle and a cousin going to be with the Lord. My hot water tank sprung a leak. I found out I owed $400 to the IRS that I was not expecting.

I’m sure every one of you reading this can make your own list of events (good and bad) which took place in 2015. God has something to say to us about looking back:

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”    Isaiah 43:18

God does not want us to focus on what might have been or the mistakes we’ve made in 2015. Instead He tells us to have a fresh look at what’s ahead:

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”    Isaiah 43:19

Therefore, look at 2016 as a new start. God has plans for all of us. I’m not saying to expect everything to be rosy. We will still have our struggles. But we can prepare ourselves with a new vitality and hope of things to come from God.

Make it your New Year resolution to be more open to God’s leading for opportunities and to cling to Him during difficult times. It’s a new year, a fresh beginning. Make sure this resolution is one you will keep throughout all of 2016.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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In A slump

file0001051260198Those of you who follow this blog probably noticed I have not posted anything for three weeks. I was sick for one week and didn’t feel like doing anything. The other two weeks I have not felt like writing. I am in a slump.

I enjoy writing the devotionals, but lately I feel I am just writing the same thing over and over. A few weeks ago I wrote a short story (which I will have my writers’ group critique soon). I had fun writing it, however, since then there’s been nothing. I want to write. I don’t know what to write.

I have been praying about it. I think I want to continue trying my hand at short stories for a while, but I feel guilty not writing the devotionals. I’ve been asking God for some direction. My gut is telling me to pursue the new and different avenue. I am in a slump.

Am I letting God down if I stop writing devotionals for now? I don’t want to write them just for the sake of writing them. If my heart is not in it at this time I don’t want to put out mediocre work. Doing that would not be glorifying God.

I am writing in my journal everyday, but even that is showing the negative feelings I’ve been having lately. I am in a slump. I want out of this slump. I know I will be rejuvenated when I attend a couple writers’ conferences in the fall, but I don’t want to wait that long. In the meantime, I will continue asking for God’s leading. I also need to open my eyes to become more aware of topic ideas that are probably screaming out to me, but I’m not seeing them.

I know there are other writers out there who have gone through a slump. I would love to hear what you did to get out of it. Any comments/suggestions will be welcomed.

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