Writer’s Blog Hop – Sample from Hope: Reflections to brighten the Dark Days of Life

31 Days of Hope231 Days of Hope1

One of the major projects I’m working on this year is a series of Kindle books (31 Days of … Series). The first book I’m putting together is Hope: Reflections to brighten the Dark Days of Life. I’ve worked on the cover design and received feedback. Now I need to finalize which colour scheme I’m going with. Which cover do you prefer? Left or right? Or is there a different colour you think I should try for the main title? (Let me know in the comment section below.)

Below you’ll find Focus, one of the devotionals I’ll be including in the book. I’m also learning to make podcasts, so listen in if you prefer 🙂

NOTE: to see what other authors are working on, go to the blog hop.

Focus

By Ruth L. Snyder

It’s 8:03. The bus comes at 8:25. My daughter wants me to read a story to her and her brothers are looking at the latest Scholastic book order forms, trying to get my attention so they can tell me what they want to order. I want to tell them we’ll deal with the book order after school, except today’s the last day orders are being accepted. My daughter opens her book. I start reading. While she’s flipping to the next page I find one of the desired books and circle it on the order form. I read the next page. One son pushes his way closer so he can listen too. I read the next page then cut out the order form while the page is being flipped. This process continues until 8:11. The book is finished; the order forms are half filled out. It’s time to get jackets, backpacks, and mitts. I still need to add the order up, write a cheque, and write the book down on my daughter’s reading list.

“Get your jackets on. I’ll finish here.”

The children rush to the entryway. I add the order up, write a cheque, staple everything together, and write the book down on the reading list. I’ll clean up after the kids are on the bus.

I take the order and reading list to the entryway. Two boys are on their way out the door. My daughter is having trouble with her zipper. My other son is nowhere to be seen. I put the order and reading list in her backpack and help with the zipper. Then I go in search of my MIA son. He’s just coming out of his room.

“Hurry! It’s time to go.”

As I’m talking to him, a glimpse of the sky takes my breath away. The sunrise is beautiful. For over a week temperatures hovered in the minus thirty range. Today it’s warmer and the sky is showing evidence of the change in temperature. You know the saying: “Red in the morning, Shepherd’s warning.” I race to grab my camera and snap a picture. My daughter’s ready, and my son is close behind.

As we walk to the bus, my focus is on the beauty of the sunrise. The busyness of the morning rush is forgotten. I breathe deeply, smile at the antics of our Husky dog, Olaf, snap pictures, and pray with my children before they climb on the bus. After the bus leaves, I continue to snap pictures as the sun rises and colours change. I revel in the moment, knowing it will soon disappear and the hectic pace of life will be back, clawing and whining for attention.

Focus. We can choose our focus. We can allow all the ugly, dark, discouraging events we all face to drag us down. Or, we can instead focus on the glimpses of beauty that surround us.

In Matthew 14, we read about the disciples crossing a lake in the middle of the night. It was stormy. They had to work to keep the boat going in the right direction. Then, just before dawn, they saw something, someone, walking on water towards them. Some of them cried out in fear, thinking it was a ghost. Peter responded by calling out:

“Lord, if it’s you, tell me come to you on the water.” (verse 28)

Jesus tells him to come, so Peter gets out of the boat and walks on the water toward Jesus. Verse thirty tells us:

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’”

Jesus reached out his hand and caught Peter, rebuking him for doubting, and helping him climb back into the boat.

I don’t know what you’re facing today, but Jesus does. He’s there for you: the same Jesus who spoke the world into existence.

Are we going to focus on our circumstances today? Or are we going to choose to focus on Jesus and trust Him?


Must Read: Fellowship of the Burning Heart

I’ve decided that I will read some classics in 2015. Fellowship of the Burning Heart came highly recommended, so I purchased a copy. It sat on my table until a few days ago when I picked it up and started reading it.

Fellowship of the Burning Heart is a collection of 10 sermons by A.W. Tozer. The collection is edited by James L. Snyder. He has done a great job of keeping the integrity of the sermons while making them a joy to read. In his introduction, James L. Snyder says:

“When you finish reading these ten sermons, you will come away with a reverence for God and an appetite for the sterling spirituality he (Tozer) advocates in his preaching. One thing is certain: you will never be the same after exposing yourself to ‘Platform Tozer.’ I know I’m not.”

The book includes a short biography of A.W. Tozer written by Snyder, some pictures of A.W. Tozer, a study guide, and the ten sermons:

  1. How to Pray for Revival
  2. In Everything by Prayer
  3. Believing Prayer
  4. Prepare by Prayer
  5. He Must Increase
  6. Hearing is a Divine Art
  7. Manifest Presence – Something Else
  8. Presence Everywhere
  9. Three Faithful Wounds
  10. The Way to Paradise

Here are some quotes to whet your appetite:

“Never underestimate the power of prayer. And remember that without it, you cannot win. With it, you cannot lose.”

“The Bible always tells the facts…It tells you that you’ll have eternal life now and lots of trouble and hardships and thorns and cross-bearing in this world and glory in the world to come and eternity with God. If you’re man enough to put up with the thorns and the crosses and the hardships and the hostilities, you can have the crown.”

“God is God. He made Heaven and Earth and holds the world in His hand and measures the dust of the earth in the balance and the sky; He spreads out like a mantle. The great God Almighty is not your servant; you’re His servant. He’s your Father; you’re His child. He sitteth in the heaven and you’re on Earth. The angels veil their faces before the God who cannot lie.”

“Von Hugel said about Pierre Gure, the great saint, ‘The reason Pierre Gure’s writings so incessantly and habitually bless and help so many people is that Pierre Gure refuses – absolutely refuses to write anything until he is blessed himself. He wants the oil of God upon him, flowing, or he won’t touch a pen,’ I think that’s beautiful.”

“Now remember, you can have all your plans you want and you can get the help of all the advertisers and all the modern mechanical gadgets, but when it is all done, you’ll fall short unless first God is glorified in the midst of His Church.”

This book will challenge you, encourage you, and force you to examine the Scriptures.

Tozer Sermons


Finding the part God designed for me

A Best Yes

A few weeks ago we brought home a puppy – Husky and Malamut cross. Olaf has brought joy and laughter to our family. He greets us at the door each morning with boundless enthusiasm and will chase sticks until we’re tired of throwing. He also likes to chase his tail. He spins round and round, but his tail always stays just out of his reach. Then he’ll flop down and relax. Here he is during one of his calmer times 🙂

Our dog, Olaf

Do you ever feel like you’re spinning round and round, chasing something that is just out of your reach? I do. People often comment about how busy I am. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be busy, but if it’s busyness without focus it gets frustrating after a while.

In the next few months I’m participating in two things to help hone my focus.

1. An online Bible Study using Lysa TerKeurst’s new book, The Best Yes

2. An online course called Audience Business Masterclass from Firepole Marketing

As I make my way through, I’ll share updates about what I’m learning.

What have you been learning lately? I’d love to hear from you.


My God Love Story

bandaged heart

“Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely. … He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.”

-Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I’m enjoying another Proverbs 31 online Bible study. This one is based on Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Am I Messing Up My Kids? … and Other Questions Every Mom Asks. This week we’ve been studying the section titled, This is All I Have to Give. For our blog hop this week we were given three topics to choose from:

  1. My God Love Story
  2. Favorite Ways to Relax and Refill
  3. This is All I Have to Give

I would have found it easy to write about topic 2, but God told me I needed to share my God love story with you. So here goes . . .

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to feel weak, or flawed, or broken. In contrast, God’s Word says:

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” I Corinthians 1:27

For the past year, God has been taking me through dark places, allowing things to happen to me and my family that I would never choose. I haven’t been happy with God. These dark places hurt. They’ve shown me things about myself I didn’t want to see. These places have left me weak, flawed, and broken, utterly dependent on God. Most people have no idea of what I’ve been going through, because I haven’t been at liberty to share. I’ve had to trust God. And, surprise! He’s been faithful (actually, that’s not such a surprise, is it?!)

In June I attended the Write Canada conference in Ontario. I thought I was going to learn more about writing and to spread the word about InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. God had other plans. He wanted to demonstrate His love to me through complete strangers who love Him.

Two women hugging

The first “hug” came through two ladies from Alberta who shared a hotel room with someone they’d only talked to on Facebook. Instead of having to pay the full cost of a hotel room, I only had to pay 1/3. Not only that, but these ladies shared from their hearts about the dark places God has lead them through. It was as if God was saying, “You’re going to make it. Hang in there.”

The second “hug” came through a pastor from British Columbia who prayed over me for no reason other than that God placed it on his heart to do so. He had no idea what I was going through, only that I was burdened.

The third “hug” came through a lady from Ontario. She has the same first name as me, grew up as a missionary kid like I did (but in a different part of the world), and has just finished going through the exact same deep dark place God is taking me through. We had never met before the conference. I went to encourage her after she asked a question during a session, and she started sharing with me about this deep dark place God had led her through. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She understood, because she’s walked the same rocky path I’m on. God used her to tell me, “There’s hope. You’re going to make it through to the other side. Trust God. He has a good plan for you.”

My way is still dark, but I’ve been reminded that God loves me, because His followers have been faithful and obedient. He cares, and He will bring me through. In fact, I think He’s carrying me right now. I can almost see Him smiling down at me saying, “We’re almost there. Just a little bit further. You won’t believe what I have in store for you!”

I don’t know what you’re going through today, but God does. Let’s trust Him together. He really does love us, and sometimes He uses other people to remind us of His love.


#MapIt: Understanding Zephaniah 3:17

Zephaniah 3:17This week in our Proverbs 31 Bible study using Limitless Life by Derwin L. Gray, our key verse is Zephaniah 3:17. The NIV version is above. Here are some other translations:

“Your God is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you.
Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs.” (The Message)

New American Standard Bible (NASB):

 “The Lord your God is in your midst, A [a]victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy, He will [b]be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”

a. Lit A warrior who saves

b. Or with some ancient versions, renew you in

“The Lord your God is with you, a Powerful One Who wins the battle. He will have much joy over you. With His love He will give you new life. He will have joy over you with loud singing.” (New Life Version)

God is with you

Stop and think about it for a minute. The mighty, all-powerful God, who created the universe by speaking a few words, is with you. He is “omnipresent” – present everywhere. Psalm 139 talks about this in great detail and reminds us that God is in the heavens, the depths, on the far side of the sea, in the darkness, and even inside the womb when a baby is being formed. No matter where we go, we cannot hide from God, because He is there too. Hebrews 13:5 states that God will never leave us or forsake us.

God saves you

God is our mighty warrior who fights on our behalf and saves us. What a beautiful picture! Jesus Christ loved us enough to give up His rightful place and be born as a helpless human baby. He submitted Himself to the same restrictions and frustrations we face, yet without sin. He lived a perfect life and allowed His life to be sacrificed on the cross as the Lamb of God, so that He could save us and give us limitless life.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 (NIV)

One of my Bible School professors challenged us to “live beyond the comma” – allowing Jesus to save us AND living life to the fullest extent possible. Ted Dekker talks about the fact Jesus didn’t just save us from Hell; He also saves us from a meaningless life here on earth.

God delights in you

You make God dance with joy! He shouts because He’s so excited about you. You give God pleasure. You are His priceless treasure. He is like a lover who delights in you so much that He declares his love for you wherever he goes. You make His heart sing.

I’m amazed at our Father’s love. I’m grateful that He’s set me free. I serve Him, not because I have to, but because I want to, because it brings me joy and fulfillment and the opportunity to tell others about His amazing love.

Are you living beyond the comma, or are you still hungering for God’s limitless life? Ask God to reveal His love to you in a new way. Then, be prepared to be swept off your feet by the tidal wave of His love. Jesus loves YOU!


#Snapit: My Favourite Place to Study

My Favourite Place to StudyBy the time you read this post, I will be flying across the country to Guelph, Ontario, in order to attend Write Canada. One of the prompts for this week’s blog hop with the Proverbs 31 crew was, “Share a picture of your favourite place to study or write.” This chair is situated in a corner of our dining room, between two windows. I usually come downstairs just after 5 a.m. to read my Bible, pray, and get some writing done before the rest of my family gets up for the day. This chair is my private sanctuary where I sit with my Bible, books like Limitless Life by Derwin L. Gray, and my iPad. It’s a place where I can turn on the light without disturbing anyone, and also easily walk into the kitchen to grab a cup of lemon water or Rooisbos tea.

When I read, I enjoy sharing what I’m learning by participating in these blog hops, posting pictures, and sharing on social media. Here’s a quote I highlighted in my book this week:

“Jesus is the living water; He alone gives us His life for our life…so that we can live the life we could never live …” #quote D.L. Gray click to tweet

I also like to sit in this same chair to write. My iPad allows me to write without the distracting bells and whistles (notifications) I have on my iMac computer. For more information on my works in progress, check out this post.

What about you? Where do you like to read, study, and or write?

share a picture of your favorite place to study or write – See more at: http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/current-study/#sthash.0YpgMzOu.dpu

From orphan to adopted: Marinate on that!

Right now, God the Papa says, "I want to adopt you as My child." Will you let Him?

I’m being challenged by the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study using Derwin L. Gray’s book Limitless Life. Chapter four of the book is titled, From Orphan to Adopted:

“We roam through life lost, looking for a love and identity that no human, no job, no amount of money could ever provide. Our Papa in heaven is the only One who can provide us with the love and, ultimately, the identity we have been created for—a child of God.”  Derwin L. Gray

In this chapter, Derwin discusses how orphans feel anonymous, abandoned, and afraid. Then he goes on to describe three keys to “taking on the new label of ‘Adopted'”:

  1. Embrace the Friendship of God
  2. Accept and Imitate the Forgiveness of God
  3. Accept the Adopting Love of God

Throughout the book, Derwin presents important ideas that are highlighted in boxed areas titled, “Marinate on That”. Here’s an idea that’s marinating in my mind and soul:

” . . . did you realize that whatever we magnify, we worship? And whatever we worship, we resemble? If we wallow in self-pity, we will become more pitiful and limit our lives. If we stay in Jesus and meditate on what He’s accomplished on our behalf, we magnify His great work, and as we do this, we worship Him. The result is that daily we are transformed into His image, releasing His limitless life through us.”

This week a counselor pointed out to me that I’m living in the shadow of bitterness over some things that happened to me in the past. People I respected and trusted betrayed me; people who are brothers and sisters in Christ. If I focus on the hurt and betrayal, I will continue to be bitter, and in the process I will lose out on God’s best for my life. Instead, Jesus wants me to focus on HIM. I don’t need to live in the shadow of bitterness any longer. I am choosing instead to live in Jesus and meditate on what He’s accomplished on my behalf:

  1. Jesus died for my sin (I Cor. 15:1-10)
  2. When I confess my sin and forsake it, Jesus forgives me and cleanses me (I John 1:9)
  3. Jesus loves me (John 3:16)
  4. Jesus wants the best for me (Jeremiah 29:11)
  5. I will have hard times in my life, but Jesus will walk with me through them. (Isaiah 43:1-4)
  6. No matter what, Jesus will NEVER leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5,6)
  7. Jesus is trustworthy; He will not betray me (Psalm 34)

Are you living in the shadows? Will you join me as I step out into the glorious light of Jesus Christ and revel in the love and delight of God the Papa?


God delights in you

Zephaniah 3:17 #Snapit: a Big God

I love the image (#Snapit: a Big God) this verse portrays. First we are told: God is with us. That’s what we celebrate at Christmas time – Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus came in a form we could relate to and confined Himself to our limitations. However, the verse goes on to remind us that God is our mighty warrior who saves us. At Easter time we celebrate not only the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, but also His resurrection. God fought the greatest battle of all time on the cross and defeated Satan. God is strong, He is mighty to save, but He is also gentle. He delights in us! Even with all our foibles and failures, God DELIGHTS in us. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour, our mighty warrior, God looks at us and sees Jesus. We are covered with the righteousness of Christ. God no longer has to rebuke us, because we are clean. Instead, he rejoices over us. We make His heart sing.

No more labels, only love!

http://http://youtu.be/j1rptZB0ydQ