Thursday, December 8, 2016

Wilderness Faith for Baby Christians – by Patricia Beal


It's 4:30 in the morning, and I have two hours to make this post happen. Then I have to get ready for work. The family is sleeping, and it's hard to see my hand-written draft in the dark. The desk, a green folding table I've had for more than 10 years, is crowded with things to do. But none of it will get done today. When will it get done?

Breathe ... At least there is a job, a family, a roof, and a publishing contract.

The past five months have been hard, the last two extremely so, and December didn't start well. Asperger's is hard; PTSD is hard; Forgiveness is hard; Being a working mom is hard. I don't have time to write, dance, parent, or take care of the house--the things I like best, and everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. And there's no end in sight. 


But that's not the worst part.

Here's the worst part. For the first time since being born again four years ago, I started doubting God's promises, started losing heart, and started wondering if this whole Christianity thing had been a tragic mistake. Oh, the heartbreak--for me and for God.

I kept thinking: I have a debut coming out--a redemption story, of all things!--and I'm miserable. How's this going to work out? How am I going to promote the novel and talk about faith? I'm a fraud and a joke, and this is an absolute disaster. 

Then something happened.

After hitting rock bottom during the Thanksgiving break and asking people to pray, a sermon on Numbers 21 (and a Numbers 20 attitude comparison) helped me see straight and started a spiritual upward trend.


Here's what I learned:

1) It's not okay to complain.

2) The devil loves a discouraged Christian.

3) The biggest blessings are often on the other side of wilderness faith.

4) There is a purpose for these seasons of extreme trials (Deuteronomy 8). God sees things that don't belong and will work them out of our systems through trials. He will burn off what's useless to strengthen us. He will humble His people. He will test our faith. He will test our hearts. He looks for obedience and faith in the middle of the storm. The struggle is real and complaining is natural, but be quick to repent. Trust God.

5) Only those who are willing to follow God when things go bad and when it feels like He is nowhere around will get to see His best and enter the promised land of victorious Christian living.

6) Pray: forgive me for complaining and losing heart, increase my faith, give me wisdom to endure and do better, go before me, win my battles.

7) You need to be strong in the Lord ... in the power of His might.

8) Put on your armor daily and for every battle.

9) Stay close to the Word. Read, pray, ponder.

10) Be rooted on God's love and concern for us. Chastening is designed to educate, train, and mature us. That's the Biblical pattern. From liberation in Exodus to Canaan there was wilderness. From baptism to ministry, Jesus was in the wilderness, too. It's God's design. From salvation to victorious Christian living there will be wilderness, too. 

11) Jesus used scriptures to pass the wilderness test. Follow that model and also lean on Him. He gets it.

12) If people are making your life seem unbearable, remember that God is the judge. And remember Joseph. What people did out of an evil heart, God used for good.

13) Wilderness is a season. It isn't life. Rebellion makes it longer. Accept God's training. Expect it. Stay humble, on your knees, prepared.

14) Hold on to God's promises--especially when they don't seem true.

Wow! I should have known all this. I've read the whole book. I feel so babyish. I think I once knew this in theory, but without the practical exercise, it didn't stick. I pray it sticks this time.

Not every moment in this wilderness is bright and shiny, but having perspective and a map--and hope and faith!--changes everything.


The idea of writing a simple book for baby Christians has crossed my mind. The Baby Christian Guide to Doing Life with the Creator of the Universe. Should I pitch it? It's probably been done before. And chances are each walk is so unique that there's no guide beyond one's personal relationship with God.

How are you doing today? What do you do when life (and God!) gives you lemons?

This is my last blog post of the year! I pray you have a beautiful Christmas season, a wonderful break, and a great start of 2017 :)

(6:07--now to find pictures...)

(6:41--done--praise God)

Patricia Beal writes contemporary Christian fiction and is represented by Leslie Stobbe of the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency. Her debut novel, A Season to Dance, comes out on May 9, 2017 (Bling! / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas).

She’s a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 with a B.A. in English Literature and then worked as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army for seven years. Now, after a 10-year break in service, she is an Army editor. She and her husband live in El Paso, Texas, with their two children.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A LOVE STORY that CROSSED BOUNDARIES



A real life story of two amazing people. As the back cover explains:

A high-flying Wall Street career woman looking for something more in her life quits her job and goes bush - to outback Australia.

One New Year's Eve in Kalgoorlie a chance meeting with a charismatic Aboriginal leader lights a spark that will change the course of her life forever.

After a whirlwind long-distance courtship, they marry in a desert creek bed and she spends her wedding night in an outback cave on a mountain, the first of many changes the New Yorker will have to face. The next is her husband's unique wedding gift, a tour of the country and its people - an unforgettable journey of discovery that marks the beginning of Diana Williams new life.

This is an extraordinary story of a woman who followed her heart and discovered a new country and culture, the realities of a 'mixed marriage', the joy of an unexpected child - and a love that crossed boundaries.


HORIZON is WHERE HEAVEN and EARTH MEET is a powerful, inspiring and timely love story.

I googled this to see whether any copies were available. It's really worth your while.

At present, Rita Galieh is ministering with her husband in Thailand. As an author of historical romance, her Victoriana Trilogy is available at  www.ritastellapress.com

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Hope in Waiting … some reflections on Advent

Photo courtesy of 9comeback/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
There’s something both exciting and tremendously nerve-wracking when we press the send button on the email that whisks the latest manuscript off to a publisher. Exciting? The project we’ve been working on has now reached a point of completion. In my case that project had consumed a lot of my mind space for the past three years.


Nerve-wracking? Will they like it? Enough to publish it? What if they don’t? What will I do then?

It’s a moment that is soon forgotten.

And then we wait.

And wait some more.

A few months later an email arrives outlining your manuscript is still in the game. Being reviewed by some others. They liked it sufficiently to pass onto others. Great.

And then we wait.

And wait some more.

As I shared with a writing friend recently: the Lord's got it in His big capable hands. Waiting helps us lean on Him more. And that's what I've tried to do. Keep writing, keep hoping, keep knowing He's looking after the situation irrespective of whether I receive a positive response or not. 

We are People who Wait

We authors wait a lot. It’s part of the fabric of being an author. I expect it’s one of the reasons self-publishing has become so popular: the author takes greater control over the end product and can manage the timeline.

We know all those feelings that come with waiting. The frustration, angst, discouragement, hopelessness. After waiting we (our work, that is) might be rejected. Again. And again. And again. We know the drill because it’s part of our lives. For some of us we’ve waited a long time and may continue to.

Advent is a time of waiting. The name Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming” or “arrival.” Beginning each year on the fourth Sunday before Christmas (the Sunday before last), Advent commemorates the birth of Jesus and also anticipates His return. As Ann Voskamp says we are “perpetual Advent people” waiting on Christ’s return.

The Branch Gives us Hope

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;

    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” (Isaiah 11:1-2)

Advent is all about hope. In who is coming.

We can believe in that hope. Because He did come 2,000 years ago on that Christmas morn, born in a feed trough, son to a teenage mom and her husband.

We can believe in that hope. Because He has come to us. He is in us and we are in Him.

We can believe in that hope. Because He has told us He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). Even when our work gets rejected. Repeatedly.

He understands us. Really, truly! Because He has chosen each one of us.

"He tends His flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in His arms
and carries them close to His heart;
He gently leads those that have young." (Isaiah 40:11 NIV)

Choose to remember Him when the enemy throws the darts of rejection or doubt at you, when he tries to take away your joy in the One we celebrate.

Draw near to Jesus as He is the most compassionate Shepherd, gathering and carrying us, His lambs, in His arms. Such a wonderful image isn't it?

I hope you are able to spend some time in the next few weeks reflecting on the hope of Advent. On Jesus. Allow His Words to “dwell in your richly.”

Wishing all of my ICFW friends a blessed Advent season full of childlike hope and anticipation.

Grace and peace,




Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Angelguard won the 2013 Selah Award for Speculative Fiction. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter

Monday, December 5, 2016

Winter Wonderland Christmas and #Giveaway


For much of the English-speaking/reading world, Christmas means snow and wintry weather. On this international blog, that’s less true than many places.

I’ve just finished reading An Aussie Summer Christmas by Narelle Atkins, Marion Ueckermann, and four other authors, which reminded me that summer heat, barbecues, and visits to the beach are typical for Christmases in the Southern Hemisphere. Likewise, my son-in-law was born and raised in Chile, and it’s taken him a while to become accustomed to Canadian Christmases and the different traditions we have in a cold-weather climate.

For me, Christmas and winter go hand-in-hand. My goal as an author is to permeate my Christmas stories with some of the following:

• Snow, including winter driving, snowball fights, snow angels, snowmen, and tobogganing parties
• Hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies
• Acquiring and decorating a live pine or fir tree
• Caroling parties
• Sunday school Christmas concerts
• The wonder as seen through the eyes of children
• The story of Jesus’ birth
• Families, friends, and traditions
• Candlelight and fireplaces
• Aromas of cinnamon, ginger, and peppermint

Not every story has room for all of those, of course, even if it includes a northern Christmas! For a Christmas story to be successful, it needs to remind readers of Jesus' birth, tug at the heartstrings, and offer a feel-good nostalgic experience. Do you agree?

More Than a Tiara debuted in 2014 as part of Snowflake Tiara and showed up again in 2015 as part of Home for Christmas. It’s recently released as the first in the Christmas in Montana Romance series, closely followed by Other Than a Halo. Next year will see the release of Better Than a Crown.

About the Christmas in Montana Romance series:
Welcome to Helena, Montana, and fall in love at Christmas! Enjoy the rich heritage and innate charm of Montana’s capitol city in this Christmas romance series celebrating heart-warming stories of love and second chances as Marisa, Bren, and Heather discover love amid the glitz of beauty pageants.

Interested in reading one of my Christmas in Montana Romances and experiencing a northern Christmas for yourself? I’m offering one reader a copy (winner’s choice, e-book only, worldwide). If you'd like to put your name in the hat, please add your email address with your comment before Friday, December 9, replacing @ with (at) and .com with (dot) com.

"Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws."

Valerie Comer's life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily-ever-afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.


Valerie is a USA Today bestselling author and a two-time Word Award winner. She has been called “a stellar storyteller” as she injects experience laced with humor into her green clean romances. Visit her at ValerieComer.com.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

SUNDAY EDITION


Coming Up This Week

Monday

Valerie Comer: Winter Wonderland Christmas and #Giveaway

Tuesday

Ian Acheson: The Hope in Waiting … some reflections on Advent

Wednesday

Rita Galieh: A LOVE STORY that CROSSED BOUNDARIES

Thursday

Patricia Beal

Friday Devotion


Marcia Laycock


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New Releases

Marion Ueckermann's contemporary romance set in England, A Romance for Rose, Book 2 in the Seven Suitors for Seven Sisters, releases independently in December 2016. 

Marion Ueckermann's contemporary romance set in England, A Hero for Heather, Book 3 in the Seven Suitors for Seven Sisters, will release independently in December 2016. 

Marion Ueckermann's contemporary romance set in England, A Husband for Holly, Book 4 in the Seven Suitors for Seven Sisters, will release independently in December 2016. 

Marion Ueckermann's contemporary romance set in Ireland, Ginger and Brad's House, released 31 October in the Frosting and Flurries box set. The independent release will be in December 2016. 


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Upcoming Releases


Lisa Harris' romantic suspense, Desert Secrets, will be a February 2017 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense, Pursued, will be an April 2017 release from Revell.

Patricia Beal's debut contemporary women’s fiction set in Germany and in the United States, A Season to Dance, will be a May 2017 release from Bling! Romance / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

To find more International Christian Fiction books, please visit our 2013 - 2016 Book Releases page and Backlist Titles.

Friday, December 2, 2016

DEVOTION: Don't Be A Silly Cat ~ by Karen Rees

Scripture reference: Col 3:12-14

My husband and I had great fun trimming our first Christmas tree with decorations as new and bright as our young marriage. Once finished, we stood with arms around each other admiring the tree that sat in the corner of our living room while our gray cat rubbed against our ankles.

Kitty-cat also liked our tree. She especially enjoyed batting the fragile glass balls that hung from the bottom branches and watching them swing.

After being scolded several times for playing with the ones in the front, she went around behind and batted the balls hanging there. She seemed to reason that if she were in the back, we wouldn't see her disobedience. Silly cat.

At times we find ourselves acting like Kitty-cat. In scripture, God tells us some “glass balls” to leave alone. But playing with them is so much fun.
Gossip is one of the colorful balls we find nearly irresistible. Learning all the intimate details about someone can be so satisfying. It's nearly as satisfying as the thrill of passing the information on.

Another glowing ball is irresponsible spending. We see so many desirable things to buy. We tell ourselves it doesn't matter that we don't actually need the item, that we're already in debt or we're spending money we should be giving to God.

A third forbidden glass ball is pretending to be better than we are. We dismiss our “little” faults while looking down on others when they exhibit similar failings.

The most tempting ball of all is the one the color of immediate happiness. We reason that God wants us to be happy right now! Therefore, whatever gives us happiness NOW must be God's will for us.
Since these “pretty balls” do bring us pleasure, why does God spoil our fun by forbidding them? 

A little bit of gossip may seem harmless, but we all know of people who have had good reputations destroyed by little bits of gossip that spread.

God blesses us with money and tells us how to use it to bless others. When we ignore him and impulsively spend more and more on ourselves, we're planting seeds of selfishness and are hurting our relationship with God.

Refusing to admit our own failings not only makes us a poor example for those we love but it will ultimately separate us from God Himself.

Yes, God wants us to be happy. That's why he's prepared heaven for us and why he gave us commands for living. He knows that obedience protects us from danger and brings greater long-term happiness. Any other way of finding happiness is no more lasting than a fragile Christmas decoration.
God sees us even at the back of the tree. So leave the balls alone, dear silly cat.


KAREN REES, with her second-generation missionary husband Benjamin, has served in Hong Kong since 1975. Besides her involvement in the mission work, Karen loves history, quilting and writing. They have two children, Matthew and Megan, and two grand-children, Hadessah and Arthur Aaron.

Her historical fiction novel, The Ruby Ring, was a Finalist Award in the 2014 National Indie Excellence Awards in the Religious Fiction category. It can be purchased in paperback or eBook from Amazon.com and other online bookstores.

Visit Karen on her author page on FacebookWatch her book trailer, The Ruby Ring Trailer.



Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Christmas Without Faith – by Christine Lindsay

With Christmas just around the corner, I’m sharing an excerpt from Christmas 1998 a few months before my birth-daughter Sarah and I were reunited in our Adoption Reunion. This excerpt is from my memoirs just released this 2016, Finding Sarah Finding Me

Because Christmas isn’t easy for everyone, at least not every year.

Excerpt from Finding Sarah Finding Me:

A few days later, with the adoption file containing Sarah’s and her parents’ legal names in my hand, I phone the reunion support group. I don’t really know what to expect, but I’d like some advice on the next step toward reunion. The resulting rollercoaster of phone calls in one afternoon comes as a shock. As soon as I tell the other member of the support group, she starts a computer search on the voting registry for Anne and Hans VandenBos. Moments later, feeling again like the Cold War spy, I write Sarah’s home address down on a pad of paper. What do I do with this? Walk up to their door and ring the bell, and say, “Hi, I’m Sarah’s birth mom. Have you been waiting for me as long as I’ve been waiting for you?”
For half a minute I want to giggle. In reality, I need my adoption counselor to smooth the way, and I write Bob a long letter bringing him up to date. A week later he calls.
When I sit in his office again, Bob’s brow puzzles over what could have happened to the first letter I wrote for Sarah. He can’t remember receiving it, but my friend assured me she had delivered it. Bob thinks perhaps he stuck it at the back of an old cabinet when he moved some files.
But nothing ever fazes Bob. With a grin, he asks me to write another letter to Sarah. He’s also been wondering why he hadn’t heard from me since our first talk, and I wonder what happened to the numerous voicemail messages I left him. Is Bob juggling too many counseling cases and put me on the back burner? Had he simply forgotten me? Or maybe Bob has become a bit cavalier doing monumental work, such as taking a baby from one woman to give that baby to another woman. As cavalier as God?
It doesn’t matter though. On this section of the emotional rollercoaster God must have slowed the process in answer to my prayers, to prepare Sarah and her parents for the reunion. And now God is speeding up the process. I can accept this. After all, God is God. I stuff my previous disappointment down deep. The heavenly Father isn’t going to let me down like my earthly dad did.
Meanwhile, Bob leans back in his chair with a chuckle and fills me in on memories he’d been unable to share with me at the time I relinquished Sarah. Nineteen years earlier, Bob and his wife had taken care of Sarah in their apartment at Trinity Western University. It comes as a surprise to me that Bob and Beverly cared for my child the first night she’d been apart from me. I’d always assumed they’d taken her directly from me to her adoptive parents. A slim shaft of hurt arrows through my ribcage, cutting off my breath. As if I’d been kept in the dark all those years ago. When Bob had phoned me that night after I’d come home from hospital I’ had no idea my baby slept in his arms.
If I’d known then, would I have asked for her back?
But I shake off this tiny sense of betrayal. It no longer matters. Now the search is back on track, and I can afford to laugh….
….That sweet little memory of Bob’s erases a tiny bit of that new shadow in me, that sense of loss, knowing now where she’d actually been after I’d said goodbye. I stuff my jealousy deep into a crevice of my heart.
Before I leave Bob’s office, he says, “It’s only a few weeks until Christmas. Better wait until after New Year to deliver your letter to Sarah and her parents, so we don’t intrude upon their family time.” Family time. I nod and smile, but inside I shrivel. I understand. Still, hurt stabs once more that I’m not considered family. And David and our kids aren’t family to Sarah either. The desire to run and hide shrouds me again. So much for my confidence of only moments ago. Oh, who am I kidding?
The fear of rejection continues to hammer me on the drive home. During the Christmas holidays I leave a voicemail for Bob that it would be best to call the whole thing off. Better to stay in the shadows, let Sarah live her life without the awkward addition of a birth mother who doesn’t really fit into any family dynamic.
Bob calls back that night. “You’ve trusted God all these years, Christine. Don’t stop trusting now.”

Read Forward and Chapter 1 of Finding Sarah Finding Me by clicking HERE

To read more about Christine Lindsay and her fictional novels as well as her memoir, go to her website www.christinelindsay.org