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Friday, April 18, 2014

DEVOTION: He Is Risen Indeed! ~ by Kathi Macias



"He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay" 
(Matthew 28:6, NKJV).

“The Old Rugged Cross” will always be one of my favorite hymns, for the old rugged Cross is where the costly, bloody price was paid for my sin—and for yours. Without it, we would all be without hope in this world.

But the story doesn’t end at the Cross. Though we focus on that great sacrificial symbol throughout Holy Week—and rightfully so—that beloved Cross would be meaningless and powerless if it hadn’t culminated in the empty tomb. On Easter morning, our focus moves from Christ’s death to His Resurrection, for that is what we truly celebrate.

Without the empty tomb, the Cross, as precious as it is to those of us who have personally identified with its sacrifice, would be the saddest emblem in history, the symbol of the worst failure and defeat of all time. For if Christ had not risen from the dead, then He would merely have been a nice man who performed good deeds, modeled a good life, and then died a martyr, deserted by His followers, leaving nothing more than an example behind.

Praise be to God that the Story did NOT end there! God accepted His Son’s sacrifice, and visibly exhibited His acceptance by raising Jesus from the dead and restoring Him to power at the right hand of the Father. That very acceptance, shown in the Resurrection, is our insurance of resurrection as well. Because humanity had turned away from God, each choosing to go his or her own way, a tremendous price had to be paid to restore us to relationship with God. That price could only be paid by One without sin. 

No human being has ever met that criterion, except the One who was both Man and God—Jesus Christ Himself. Out of a depth of love that we can’t even begin to imagine, God sent His only Son to be that sinless sacrifice. Out of that same unconditional love, the Son willingly came and suffered an excruciating death on our behalf. But three days after being placed in the grave, He burst the bonds of death and hell and arose, victorious, opening the door to heaven once again.

That old rugged Cross will always be precious to me, but it is the empty tomb I will celebrate this Easter. May you too join the many choruses of hallelujahs resounding around the globe this Sunday morning as we celebrate the pivotal point of all history, the empty tomb!

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. 

Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. She won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) and was the 2011 Author of the Year from BooksandAuthors.net. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Predictability and Bravery

"Trust Me, and don't be afraid. Many things feel out of control. Your routines are not running smoothly. You tend to feel more secure when your life is predictable. Let Me lead you to the rock that is higher than you and your circumstances. Take refuge in the shelter of My wings, where you are absolutely secure...say 'yes' to the ways I work in your life. Trust Me, and do not be afraid."  'Jesus Calling' by Sarah Young, April 15th.

We have been trying to move for a year and a half. 
We have looked at about 15 homes, made offers on five, had one full house inspection and had 5 house inspections cancelled in a month on one house.
Our house has been waiting for new owners and we have been waiting with our boxes packed, our extras in storage and the bathroom toilets constantly wiped clean.
Seventy-five tomato seedlings, thirty artichokes, one hundred onions and leeks, twenty strawberry plants, Echinacea, rudbeckia, petunias, lavender, lettuces, and lilies are crammed onto a grow-shelf, reaching for the backyard garden that has been freshly raked and turned. 

I put a sign on our backdoor, leading to the garage that says, 'We will move into our dream home by April 2014'.  It's the 15th.  Fifteen days to go. 
My heart is all over the place. My brain won't turn off.
We have another offer on a house.  They accepted and now we are waiting for the bank to say, 'yes'. 
The owners are anxious to leave, their home already half-empty.
We are anxious to leave, our home already half-empty, our hearts already dreaming about living in a our dream house. A house that we thought was house 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, then 6. Each house more amazing than the next.  But this house is such a huge dream, I'm terrified.

An old stone home.  Eighty-six acres of forest surrounding us, including ready-to-tap maples.  Open spaces around the home that just happen to all face south, so they can be turned and tilled and I can plant my seedlings into their waiting rich soil.  An extra garage/outbuilding to put in a gymnastics practice-gym for the boy and is insulated for his drum set.  Space and the materials for my greenhouse - that I have dreamt about since University, because I want to create new species of flowers.

I have moved twenty-one times in my forty years.  The longest I have ever rested in a home, was this one. The one we are in now.  Our son grew up here, little notches on the wall that have been taken down and transferred to a beam for now.  The back patio where he rode his tricycle, the tree house with a zip-line and rope bridge that he still plays on, although he does flips off of it now.  My gorgeous peonies that I propagated and split and cultivated just popping up through the soil.  The circle in front of our house where I can watch my son and husband play catch, badminton, ride their bmx bikes on new jumps they built.

I'm terrified to leave.  It's in a whole new city, a whole new area that I am completely unfamiliar with.  I'm terrified of new adventure, now.  Before, I could leave at the drop of a hat, move to another house no problem. But now?  Change terrifies me. And what terrifies me even more, is that my heart is falling in love with this stone house and her land. And I'm terrified it will be taken away.  The bank will say no. We won't sell our house.
I know I'm being ridiculous, but life has been the same for seven years.  I know my house inside and out.  I know when a new creak appears on the stairs, I know the robins that visit, I know that the monarchs will come again because I planted milkweed, and the bees are plentiful in my tiny yard.
I've tried using my imagination and photos to create my new space, to know where the furniture will go, where I will hang my paintings and photos.  Where will I put our king-size bed when the rooms are too small?

I hate this feeling of not knowing.  It's not like wondering if you'll get a certain job, because I can make my brain say, 'it's ok, something better will come'.  Because my heart is already living there, and I'm terrified she'll be broken with disappointment.  Sure I can stay here another year, if we have to.  I'd have to give away a lot of my seedlings because my yard will not fit that many tomatoes. 
But...

I think it's time to be brave.  To go out and wait for my heart to get broken... or be fed beyond her wildest dreams.  I know God has this, I know my Heavenly Father has us all in His hands, and His blessings will be beyond measure and my heart will be full.  And that I choose to be grateful, no matter what.
But I also believe in dreams coming true.  So I will never stop chasing them.

So you there. The one with the dreams.  Be brave. Be unpredictable.  Be strong.

"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation." Is 12:2

Jenn Kelly is an author who has found her new character for her new novel which will be written at some point.  She is often thoughtful, but mostly crazy. You can find her at www.jennkelly.com, but she hasn't been there in awhile. She prays for your bravery.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

THOSE WONDERFUL CRITTERS

by Marion Ueckermann

I’m born and bred African. My birth and the first six years of my life were spent in Mufulira, Zambia, close to the Congo. After that I spent my childhood in a small town right beside the Kruger National Park.  When I finished school I moved to Johannesburg, some 600 kilometers away. I married and raised my children in suburbia Jo’burg and Pretoria (bar the 18 months we spent overseas in Ireland).

Africa is synonymous with wildlife, bugs and critters, and it’s not uncommon for children to find tortoises, chameleons, and a host of other strange pets to keep them occupied and entertained for a while.

One of our greatest wildlife pets we had was a hedgehog. Then we had two. Sadly, they found the back door leading inside from our garden, probably dashed through our house to the front door, and escaped. We were sad, especially my youngest son. But it was fun to have them while it lasted.

Dinner time

I think they were planning their escape.

And right here is probably where they got the idea to escape through the house.
My son, Kyle, aged 12 then with one of his pet hedgehogs.

 In January last year, I joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and subsequently their Scribes critique group. During my time there I have made friends with some wonderful critters. Many of them having stayed the course of two novelettes with me, and many have become good cyber friends.

Each of these woman come with their own set of strengths, but together, they’ve allowed me to submit a manuscript that was as close to perfect as I could get it, and subsequently was contracted for publication. I’m hoping that, with their help, a second will follow soon.

So, I wanted to share a little about a few of them.

First, there’s Sondra, who’s brilliant at noticing those unnecessary words. I’ve gotten to the place of trusting those red lines that come with her crits.


Sondra Kraak grew up in Seattle, Washington, studying writing and theology, and now resides in North Carolina with her husband and two children. A musician, writer, and theologian, she serves her church through music ministry and Bible teaching. She has recently finished her first novel and is seeking publication. When she's not writing, playing the piano, or tending her home and family, she might be hiking in the mountains that surround her home, reading, or sharing coffee with a friend.

http://inkygirl.com/comic-use-policy/
Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com


Diane is my Comma Queen (and she loves the title I’ve bestowed on her). If a comma should be there, Diane will spot it and rectify my run-on sentences.


Diane Tatum started writing her own stories in 6th grade. After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Business Administration and later a Masters in Teaching Language Arts—raising her boys in between—she began writing again. She did freelance writing for magazines and church Sunday school curriculum. Her novel, Gold Earrings, was published in 2011. She’s completed a second and third novel, A Time to Choose and Colonial Dream. Diane loves creating characters that become deeper and fuller as the story evolves.

http://inkygirl.com/comic-use-policy/
Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com

Heidi’s writing is as vibrant as those gorgeous eyes of hers, and she’s always on the same page as me. We both belong to a smaller crit group of five who write Contemporary Romance. Heidi’s a writer after my own heart, her voice and genre so like mine. She’s great at spotting a myriad of things, or just coming alongside like a High School cheerleader, cheering me on when the writing shines. I love critiquing Heidi’s writing, too.

www.heidimccahan.com

Heidi’s formative years in Alaska, coupled with the country's breathtaking scenery, fueled her active imagination and loosely inspired her debut novel, Unraveled. With a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Medicine and a Master’s Degree in Athletic Training, Heidi enjoyed a brief career as a Certified Athletic Trainer before she married her husband, Steve. They live in North Carolina with their three active little boys. When Heidi isn’t stepping on Legos, chauffeuring the boys around suburbia or folding laundry, she loves to write heartwarming romance set in unique locales.

http://inkygirl.com/comic-use-policy/
Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com

And then there's Nancy, my toughest critiquer. In the beginning I would cringe when I saw a crit coming from her. But, oh, how I appreciate this woman who goes far beyond the extra mile, not only in critiquing my work, but also in encouraging and complimenting when needed. I just love what she had to say to me in a crit recently: “The thing about writing as strong as yours is it allows me to be very, very picky and see little nuance structure and reader anticipation things, so while there were a LOT of comments and tweaks here, it’s kind of like getting to dust the Mona Lisa for me when I crit you. Nice job girl and so glad we’re friends.”

www.nancykimball.com

Author, avid reader and shameless hero addict, Nancy Kimball makes her home in Houston, Texas. She loves history, great books with strong heroes, and doesn't understand the point of white crayons. Her stories feature characters that must rise from brokenness to triumph, with a little love and faith along the way, solidifying her brand of storytelling, Fiction From the Ashes.

http://inkygirl.com/comic-use-policy/
Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com

Don’t you just love having critters in your life? Why not share about those you’ve had the privilege of encountering, in both the animal kingdom and the writing world?


Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners (2009), The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (published August 2011 by Tyndale House Publishers) and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven (published 15 October 2013). She has recently signed a publishing contract with Pelican Book Group (White Rose Publishing) for Helsinki Sunrise, Passport to Romance series. Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She now lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Prickly pears, yoghurt and lipstick

I came across the prickly pear cacti in the two photos below on one of my walks in a nearby nature reserve. I captured the beauty of their healthy green paddles decorated with exquisite blossoms with my camera.




Not far off, another clump of prickly pears told a different story. Some of their paddles were a sorry mess of twisted brown fibres, while others were covered with a fluffy white substance. What could cause such damage?





Our guide explained that cochineal insects lived on the prickly pears and caused the destruction. She squashed some of the white fluff and a crimson "goo" immediately appeared. Cochineal? Yes indeed, cochineal, the red dye often used in food such as sausages and yoghurt and also in cosmetic products such as lipsticks and blushes. Yuk, not a very appetising thought.


Cochineal, also known as carminic acid, is a chemical extract obtained from the bodies of tiny scale insects, about the size of a pin head, which live on the prickly pears.The dye is thought to protect the insects from predators such as ants. It takes about 60000 insects to make one pound of dye.

The scale insects produce a protective layer of white wax. The females are wingless and do not move around, they slip their beak-like mouth parts into the paddle and feed on the prickly pear sap. They give birth to nymphs which produce long wax filaments. The wind catches these filaments and carries the nymphs to new host plants where they form a new colony and wreak further havoc.

Whoever would have thought such a tiny insect could cause such destruction and produce a dye that is widely used in food and cosmetics? I, for one, didn't.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

SUNDAY EDITION


Coming Up This Week

Monday

Ruth Ann Dell

Tuesday

Marion Ueckermann: Those Wonderful Critters

Wednesday

Jenn Kelly

Thursday

Ufuoma Daniella Ojo

Friday Devotion

Karen Rees: What Became of My Offering?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

New Book Releases


Paula Vince's contemporary romance set in Australia, Imogen's Chance, will be an April 2014 release from Even Before Publishing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Upcoming Book Releases


Narelle Atkins' contemporary romance set in Australia, The Nurse's Perfect Match, will be a May 2014 release from Love Inspired Heartsong Presents. 

Narelle Atkins' contemporary romance set in Australia, The Doctor's Return, will be an August 2014 release from Love Inspired Heartsong Presents.


Christine Lindsay's historical romance, Veiled at Midnight, Book 3 of Twilight of the British Raj series, will be a September 2014 release from WhiteFire Publishing.


Valerie Comer's contemporary romance novella is included in Snowflake Tiara, a September 2014 release from Choose NOW Publishing. Her novella, The Model Queen, will be paired with author Angela Breidenbach's historical novella, The Debutante Queen, both set in the US.

Narelle Atkins' contemporary romance set in Australia, Her Tycoon Hero, will be a November 2014 release from Love Inspired Heartsong Presents.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Sweetened with Honey, Book 3 in the Farm Fresh Romance series, will be a March 2015 release from Choose NOW Publishing.

To find more International Christian Fiction books, please visit our 2013 - 2015 Book Releases page and Backlist Titles.

Friday, April 11, 2014

DEVOTION: Saying Hello! ~ by Shirley Corder


The angel added [to Hagar], "I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count." The angel of the LORD also said to her: "You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers." She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me." Genesis 16:10-13a NIV

A common greeting used by the Zulu people in South Africa comes in two parts. The one person says, “Sikhona!” and the response is “Sawubona!” Sikhona literally means “I am here to be seen,” and Sawubona says, “I see you.”

What a powerful greeting! How often do we give a casual and meaningless “Hi!” or ask “How are you?” The traditional response for that question is, “Fine thanks and you?” I have to confess there have been many times that I have hoped that is all the person will say. I really don't want to be there for the next ten minutes while he or she tells me exactly how they are! 

Yet what a difference we could make to someone's day if we took a lesson from the Zulu folk. If we were to look each other in the eye and admit, “I am here to be seen!” and hear the other person assure us, “I see you.”

Hagar was Sarah's servant. Because Sarah was infertile, she ordered Hagar to sleep with her husband Abraham and give him a son. (No pressure!) The son would then be Abraham's heir. 

No sooner was she pregnant, when Sarah started to ill-treat the girl, and eventually Hagar could take no more. She ran away into the desert - an extremely dangerous place for a pregnant young woman.  

Suddenly, an angel appeared, and brought her a message from God. Hagar apparently had some spiritual awakening as a result of this angelic visitation. She was so excited, she gave Him her own personal name, Lahai Roi, meaning The God Who Sees. 

All of us have a heart-felt need to believe there is someone who sees us. Who really notices us. Who understands and who cares. We want to feel appreciated and affirmed. We long to be valued and celebrated. How great to know that God always sees us! 

Whatever word or greeting we choose to use when saying "Hello", how good it will be if we think about the person and convey that powerful message. “Hello. You are important to me . . . because I see you.”

OVER TO YOU: This week, try to make each greeting, no matter how brief, convey a powerful message. Just a warm greeting, a nod or a smile can say to them, "I see you! And I care."

Bye for now! Sawubona! I see you!

SHIRLEY CORDER lives on the coast in South Africa with her husband, Rob. Her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer contains 90 meditations based on her sojourn in the cancer valley.

Please visit Shirley through ShirleyCorder.com, where she encourages writers, or at  RiseAndSoar.com, where she encourages those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or FaceBook

Please pop in and say, "Sawubona!"

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Writing and the Ripple Effect


Another blog recently declared writing is not a waste of time http://christianwritersdownunder.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/its-not-waste-of-time-by-nola-passmore_31.html?showComment=1396393017724#c4508681362741438087 I found it, as I know others did, good to read because sometimes it can feel that way.  But often there a ripple effect from a piece of writing and God is working in ways we may not know about.
 
Several times I have bought a book after reading a review on either this site or one of the others Nola mentioned or on Goodreads. At one stage I bought several copies of one book, Deeper Places, after reading a review. I read it and loved it and hope those I gifted books to do too.

Just recently I gave a friend, two books for her birthday. One was the book mentioned above, which she hasn’t started yet. The other was Captured by Calvary by Ray Hawkins.  A little while after  her birthday I received a card from my friend  who said, ’Just had to drop you a line share how much Captured by Calvary has been such a source of enlightenment, conviction and challenges  this writer has given me these past 14 days. ‘  She intends buying ‘twelve copies of this book for others to be blessed also.’  She also said she had been able to use some of the thoughts expressed in the book in her devotional talks for Girls’ Brigade.

So sometimes after we’ve read a review or bought or gifted a book, we don’t know how God will choose to use that writer’s words and what impact it will make on others. When I posted the books off to my friend I hoped she would enjoy them, so I was thrilled to hear her response. I then asked her if I could pass this information onto the author to encourage him and she readily agreed. But why just email Ray Hawkins with the news?  Why not instead let others here know so we can see the effect one book can have on others?

Having been with me in prayer since the start of my writing journey, my friend knows what a roller coaster ride it can be. Some days you can feel on top of the world when a publisher says yes, or someone loves your book or you get an email telling you what a blessing it was. Other days a bad review, lack of sales or a rejection letter is enough to knock you flat and can leave you very much wondering if it is worth it. So I think it is important for us writers to try and encourage other writers, particularly Christian writers, so they do not get discouraged and give up. I’d love to hear how you have been able to encourage another writer or how  they have encouraged you.
 
Dale writes fiction, poetry and children’s fiction, and has written bible studies and Sunday school lessons. More information about Dale can be found at www.daleharcombe.com or on her Write and Read with Dale blog http://www.livejournal.com/users/orangedale/
 
 

What is your favorite setting for a book?