Friday, November 28, 2014

DEVOTION ~ Exceeding, Abundantly More by Shirley Corder

John 2:6-10

We all know the story of how Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana. The question is why.

The wedding party ran out of wine. This would have been a huge embarrassment for the host family, and a disappointment to the guests. How good of Jesus to work his first ever miracle to save the situation. The guests would leave the wedding talking about the happy occasion, and the great wine.

Yet this miracle is about far more than wine and a rescued wedding celebration.

The servants brought their empty vessels to Jesus. They showed him the truth. They had nothing left to offer. Jesus told them to do the best they could with what they had. "Fill them with water." This they could do. It was all they could do. When they brought the containers, now filled with water, to Jesus, He transformed the water into wine. More wine than the wedding party could ever use. Exceeding, abundantly more than they needed.

What would have happened if the servants had said, "This is stupid. It's only water. We're not doing it."? The wedding would have been a disaster, a dismal failure. And we wouldn't have had this amazing story in Scripture.

When I as a writer find myself out of inspiration, with no astounding message or enthralling story to tell, I can bring my emptiness to Jesus. He may tell me to use what I have, write the words that are available to me, do the best I can. Then I can trust Him to touch them and transform them into a life-giving message that will inspire and encourage people I may never meet. He will not only change the words I have written, He will turn them into a blessing that is exceeding, abundantly more than I could ever expect or imagine. 

But I have to first write. I have to give Him words to work with, then trust Him to perform a miracle.

And unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory. Ephesians 3:20 KJV

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 time in the cancer valley.

Sign here to receive a short devotional message from Shirley in your inbox once a week.

Please visit Shirley at 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 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Clean Out - Goodbye post



When you’re a writer and a hoarder it is easy to accumulate lots of paper and information.  After all, you never know when it mind come in handy.  In a filing cabinet I have dutifully stored items pulled from magazines and newspapers that I thought could be an idea for a character, a story or a poem. There they have sat in the drawer until recently I decided it was time to do a clean out, not just of the filing cabinet but of my study.

During that time my son phoned wanting to know if I had copies of poems he wrote as a child and young teenager. Did I have copies? Of course I did. What mother doesn’t keep such mementoes? Could I quickly find them was an entirely different question?  After some searching I found them, along with some other keepsakes that made me smile and sometimes cry, in one of two large boxes hiding under my desk because to date I have found nowhere to unpack them. Maybe when I sort through the accumulated and largely out of date, I suspect, writing information I have stored over the years I will find a spot in the desk or bookcase. 

At the moment the bookcase is like this with only one shelf that has been partly attacked. 

In it I found information about magazines and publishers, some of whom no longer exist. I found research about lighthouses,

 limestone caves, the brain, owls, alpacas, penguins and various other random items. 

There is also one shelf and a half filled with exercise books of my quiet times over the years.   Otherwise too often I tend to forget.
Many of those have formed the basis of devotionals and bible studies written over the years. They will probably remain, as I find it helpful to look back and see how God has answered prayers in the past as well and lessons He has taught me.

However all the other writing tools and information needs a serious call. After all, some of those things were pulled out of magazines before the internet came to such prominence. If I did need them, I could easily Google the information back without taking up room with shelves of folders of paper information. My recycling bin is going to get a serious boost as it has already.

When it comes to old manuscripts that haven’t been published, I feel I should be ruthless if I am not planning to write any more. And yet..... Somehow I am loathe to part with them. As I say goodbye to this group and other writing groups and activities, I feel I am at a closing of doors. I just can’t quite bring myself to close the door tight. 

So who knows as  continue to go through and clean out the study it may make it clearer about stopping writing or, it could evoke some new ideas. Time will tell. But for now it is goodbye from me. Thanks for being a source of encouragement and blessing over my time here. Bye all.




Over the years, Dale has written fiction, poetry, children’s fiction, bible studies and Sunday school lessons. More information about Dale can be found at http://www.daleharcombe.com or on her Write and Read with Dale blog http://www.livejournal.com/users/orangedale/


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gratitude Journal


 I mentioned Ann Voskamp's  One Thousand Gifts, on a previous blog.  The book inspired me to start my own gratitude journal with the goal of making one thousand entries in the year. 
   I started off with a great list of family, church, faith, friends, home, my cats, all the easy obvious things.  Then I had to look a little harder, but it was spring and each day brought some new miracle.  Flowers at the Butchart Gardens, new shoots in my own garden, roses tumbling from my trellis.  In order to meet my goal I only needed to write in three things a day.  Easy, I thought.  And it was easy.  I live in a
beautiful, peaceful part of the world.  I am free to worship as I please.  I have enough of this world's goods to be comfortable, and last Saturday I exercised my right to vote.  Three gratitudes a day is a piece of cake.  -- NOT!
   Not that I'm not grateful every day, but finding something new each day is getting harder and harder.  I've already done the cats and the garden and my family.  It's winter now so no new flowers to exclaim over but I did make note of the bounty of harvest and the sweetness of the Golden Delicious apples off my tree.  
     I've given thanks that I got to sing in the chorus of Britten's War Requiem (a very difficult work not often performed so singing it was a rarity) and I've given thanks that I'm finished with the War Requiem. :-)
   I've recorded the sunrise and the sunset several times, even noted that sunrise every morning is a miracle in itself.  I look out at an every changing view of ocean and mountains but I think it's cheating to keep noting the shades of blue in my journal.  Isn't the object of the exercise to find one thousand new moments of gratitude in the year?

   So, here I am, falling behind in my goal of three things a day.  Not because I'm ungrateful, but because my blessings repeat over and over.  Now I ask you, ICWFers.  Can I journal the same things more than once?  Has anyone else taken the 1000 challenge or something similar?  What are your experiences?


Alice Valdal lives in beautiful British Columbia, Canada.  She writes, knits, bakes, bicycles and is owned by two cats.  She is grateful every day for her husband and all the other blessings in her life.  Visit her at  www.alicevaldal.com or atfacebook.com/#!/alice.valdal.5



Published books: 
    

Sunday, November 23, 2014

SUNDAY EDITION


Coming Up This Week

Monday

Morgan Tarpley

Tuesday

Marcia Laycock

Wednesday

Alice Valdal

Thursday

Dale Harcombe

Friday Devotion

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New Book Releases

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

Sandra Orchard’s romantic suspense set in Washington State, USA, Identity Withheld, is a November 2014 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Sweetened with Honey, Book 3 in the Farm Fresh Romance series, releases independently in November 2014.


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Upcoming Book Releases

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in Georgia, USA, Hidden Agenda, Book 3 in her Southern Crimes series, will be a January 2015 release from Revell.

Donna Fletcher Crow's murder mystery set in England, A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary, book 4 the Monastery Murders series, ebook only available now, print coming in January 2015.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in Paris, France, Taken, will be a February 2015 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Narelle Atkins' contemporary romance set in Australia, Winning Over the Heiress, will be a February 2015 release from Love Inspired Heartsong Presents.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Dandelions for Dinner, Book 4 in the Farm Fresh Romance series, releases independently in spring 2015.

Narelle Atkins' contemporary romance set in Australia, Seaside Proposal, will be a May 2015 release from Love Inspired Heartsong Presents.

Sandra Orchard’s romantic mystery set in Niagara, Canada, Desperate Measures, Book 3 in her Port Aster’s Secrets series, will be a June 2015 release from Revell.

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

Friday, November 21, 2014

DEVOTION: To the Ends of the Earth ~ by Judith Robl


Focus verses: Acts 10:1-11:18

The disciples were all Jews. And until now, the gospel had been preached in the synagogues, reaching more Jews. It was generally thought that this new religion was a sect of Judaism.

In this passage, however, we see that this man named Cornelius – who was not Jewish – had been selected by God to be a convert to this new faith. Cornelius was righteous, much as Job was righteous. He did all the right things and prayed to God. He simply wasn’t a Jew. But he was a son of Adam.

We also see that Peter had been selected to teach Cornelius. The Jewish dietary laws were very explicit. God had told them that certain things were clean or unclean for eating purposes. Peter, in his hunger, was shown a vision of many living creatures and told to kill and eat them. But he objected that he had never eaten anything unclean – ever. But God told him not to judge. That God can make anything clean.

Peter’s physical hunger seems to have been a metaphor for God’s hunger that all the world should know Him. God’s overriding desire is that all men should be saved. Jesus said that the disciples would be witnesses to Him throughout all the earth.

As the spiritual descendants of the disciples, we should be witnessing, too. We should be witnessing to the pagan, the atheist, the deluded, the deceived, the murderer, the rapist, the robber – the entire world.

Let me be very clear here. We do not convert. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. We merely inform. We tell what we know. God will do the rest.

Father, God,
Teach us more of You that we may tell all the world around us. Keep us open to the movement of Your Holy Spirit and rein in our tendency to prejudge.
In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.


JUDITH ROBL is the founder of Reflected Light Ministries and speaks to women’s groups about prayer, forgiveness, and drawing closer to God. Trained as a secondary level English teacher, Judith has a heart for mentoring. She and her husband, Martin, have been married fifty years and have four children who have presented them with nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Her book, As Grandma Says, is a devotional gift book, incorporating her grandmother's adages with an appropriate scripture, a pertinent life lesson, and a word of prayer. Visit her at her website or on Facebook.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Just-for-fun Character Interview

I like to offer my readers a variety of bonus features for the books I write. Character interviews are always a part of the list. But this is the first time I've interviewed a four-legged character:



This is Rusty, from my November release from Love Inspired Suspense, Identity Withheld.

Sandra Orchard: Hi Rusty, thanks for joining us at ICFW today. Could you start by telling us about yourself? 

Rusty: I'm a really, really, really good dog. Don't pay no attention to what Tommy's dad, Jake, says. He's a firefighter and gets hot under the collar just because I chew a shoe or corner of the couch or something. His parents adopted me for their grandson Tommy who is the nicest boy on the face of the earth. I live with them, next door to Tommy and Jake. Tommy's mom died not long after he was born so Tommy's at his grandparents a lot when his dad's working, and we play and play and play. 

Sandra: I hear you took a shine to Kara Grant, too, when Jake brought her to his parents after her house burned down and she had nowhere to go. 

Rusty: Oh, yes, I loooooove Kara. She understands dogs. I could tell she was sad so I sat right down beside her and let her cry into my fur and she let me sleep on her bed with her. And she taught my person, Tommy, how to train me so his dad wouldn't get so mad at me. Of course, I didn't listen when she told me to stay before she went out for a jog, because I sensed she wasn't coming back and I knew that would make Tommy real sad. 

Sandra: So what did you do? 

Rusty: I chased after her. And it worked! She came back to the house to stay a while longer. But...she was more scared than ever, because bad guys are after her. 

Sandra: Did Jake have a new respect for you after that, too?

Rusty: More like he was jealous that Kara was always hugging me instead of him.<big, tongue-lolling grin> But after that, at least, he figured "I was smarter than I looked." Although...I think I look adorable. Don't you?

Sandra: Absolutely. Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?

Rusty: I don't want to give away the story, but everyone keeps calling Jake the hero, when I should get top billing. Kara fell in love with me the first time she laid eyes on me and... <glances from side to side and lowers his voice> if you read Identity Withheld, I'm sure you'll agree that it wouldn't be much of a story without me.

Oh, and the story ends at Christmastime. So it's a great read for this time of year, even if you don't think I'm adorable.

Your Turn: Any questions for Rusty? 

WITNESS IN HIDING
After exposing an illegal adoption ring, newly named “Kara Grant” is promised safety in Witness Protection. But someone has found her—and wants her dead. If only she could trust the handsome firefighter who catches her fleeing from a suspicious fire. Jake Steele seems to think she’s guilty of burning her own home. But how can she tell him who she really is and what she’s been through without bringing danger to the widowed father’s door? Yet with the criminals fast closing in, taking such a risk might be her only chance at survival. Because the price she’ll pay for her silence could be her life.



Sandra Orchard is a multi-award-winning author of mysteries and romantic suspense with Revell Publishing and Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense imprint. She is an active member of ACFW, RWA and TWG (Canada). A mother of three grown children, she lives in Niagara, Canada with her real-life-hero husband and writes full time…when not doting on her young grandchildren.  Learn more about Sandra’s books and bonus features at www.SandraOrchard.com or connect at www.Facebook.com/SandraOrchard

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Talking over the Teacups with Dorothy Stewart



Although I had met the delightful Dorothy Stewart online through the English Association of Christian Writers group to which we both belong, I didn’t get to know her charming vivacity until we met in person. (There are some things electronic media still can’t quite communicate.) When I spoke at the Felixstowe Book Festival last June Dorothy drove for well over an hour from her home in Halesworth to be there for the event.

It was a busy morning, but we did manage to share a quick cup of tea— a great start, but not nearly long enough to talk about all the things we would have loved to explore. Now we continue over the miles (7000 of them) and invite our International Christian Fiction Writers friends to listen in. So go get yourself a cup of tea and join our virtual tea party.




Donna:  Dorothy, I’m so excited to hear about your new book. Congratulations! Tell us about When the Boats Come Home.

Dorothy: The Great War (1914-18) had a devastating effect on families as well as on the men who fought. When the Boats Come Home tells the story of one family, the Rosses, a fishing family whose eldest son is killed, their daughter widowed. But behind those simple facts lie secrets that are tearing the family apart. Every year, the herring fishing fleet descended on Great Yarmouth for the autumn fishing, but 1921 was a bad year and the boats were kept in harbour, the men idling round the town. But (this is the factual bit!) Jock Troup, an evangelist from my home town of Wick, took the opportunity to preach to these men one evening in the Market Square – and God sent revival. The book follows how this affects the Rosses, how God can rebuild and restore. There’s pain as the secrets have to come out but there is a happy ending – oh and romance too!


Donna: That sounds great. I love historical fiction. What piqued your interest in the topic?

Dorothy: I’m a lay preacher serving a group of nine churches. Kind folks in the congregations sometimes invite me to lunch after the service. One Sunday, I was relaxing over coffee with my host while my hostess was busy in the kitchen. When he heard I came from the small town of Wick in the far north-east of Scotland, he said ‘You’ll know all about the Fishermen’s Revival at Great Yarmouth?’ I had to admit I had no idea so he told me how, in the autumn of 1921, a great revival spread through the fishing towns of the East Coast. I always take Monday off as my ‘Sabbath’ when I’ve had a busy Sunday so I had time to take a look at the internet – and was deeply moved by the story. Especially when I discovered that the Wick fishermen brought their new-found faith back home and built a mission hall near the harbour – where I came to faith forty years later! I knew then this was a story I had to tell – but in fiction. And that’s how it began.

Donna:  How wonderful that this turned out to be such a personal story for you! Is this your first novel?

Dorothy:  It’s my first published novel – but I had another ten under the bed! Apprentice pieces, I think you could call them! I’ve had ten other books published – one children’s book (It’s Hard to Hurry When You’re a Snail) and nine non-fiction, mainly prayers and meditations.

Donna: Oh, yes. I always thought of all those “under my bed” as paying my dues. What launch events are you doing for When the Boats Come Home?

Dorothy: This is the first – thank you, Donna! I’ve got interviews set up with local radio, a tea party at my local Christian bookshop, and bigger events at the two wonderful specialist museums in Wick and Great Yarmouth. Everything’s happening very quickly but I love to give talks and interviews so I’m really looking forward to it all.

Donna: What an honour that ICFW is your maiden voyage! And what’s next in your writing agenda?

Dorothy: I’ve taken advantage of NaNoWriMo to get the next one (or maybe it’s a trilogy!) underway. Because I won’t work Sundays, I’ve been doing 2,000 words a day six days a week. Hard work but enormous fun! The new one is also a Christian historical, weaving the stories of four families – starting again in my home town in Scotland, but moving out to the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898, ranching in Manitoba, the high life in San Francisco and Buenos Aires – and that’s only the first half of the first book! There’s romance, adventure, a feisty heroine – and a happy-ever-after.

Donna: Oh, good. I hope all our Canadian readers caught that. We’ll definitely want to hear more when that book is out. Since we invited the ICFW community to listen in to our conversation, what else would you like to tell them about yourself?

Dorothy: I’m a Scot from the far north of Scotland and I’ve loved to write since I was a young child. My first job was as trainee reporter on my local paper, The John O’Groat Journal, where I learned the discipline of sitting down and writing. I was 18 when I came to the Lord and though my life has been full of ups and downs, He has never let me down – though I reckon I’ve let Him down more times than I care to remember! I worked in book publishing most of my life but am now enjoying seeing my early dream of being a published fiction writer come to pass.

Donna: And tell us more about your preaching.

Dorothy: That’s something I love. I love the study that goes into preparing a Sunday service. I love choosing hymns. And I love the actual delivery on a Sunday. It’s an enormous privilege to serve God’s people this way. I believe that the writing and the preaching are complementary parts of my ministry to nourish and strengthen God’s women in particular.

Donna:  What a busy lady! Thank you so much for taking time to have a cup of tea with us today, Dorothy.  Where can our friends find you and When the Boats Come Home on the web?

Dorothy: When the Boats Come Home will be available around December 12th as a paperback as well as Kindle and other e-formats. My publisher, Zaccmedia, tell me it will be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble among other outlets. They also have a web page for direct purchases. And I blog at dorothystewartblog.wordpress.com

  
Donna Fletcher Crow's newest release is A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary, book #4 in her Monastery Murders series.