Tuesday, December 24, 2019

An Angel's Story

What was it like to be an angel on that first Christmas? Part One.

Excitement tingled in the air. I and all the angels of heaven, as well as those serving on earth, had been summoned to present ourselves before the LORD. Something big was happening, but no one knew what. I hurried to take my place among the multitude, anticipation making it hard to stand still. When we'd all assembled--ten thousand times ten thousand and more!---Gabriel stepped forward and stood near God's throne. The Lamb sat on a throne on God's right. He looked peaceful, serene.

God rose from his seat and everyone grew quiet.

"Today the prophecy I gave my servant Isaiah will be fulfilled." His voice thundered through the heavens.

A hushed murmur rose from the crowd of angels. We knew God spoke of the covenant he'd made with a human named Isaiah, one of God's chosen race, the Hebrews. Isaiah was obedient and faithful, and God had placed upon him the responsibility to be His voice throughout the ages to the disobedient Jews. Through Isaiah, God promised to send a Messiah, One who would save the entire world from sin. God's patience with mankind continued to amaze me. They deserved the same fate as the people in Noah's day, but God promised never to destroy them again. Instead, He set in place a plan of salvation that even I didn't fully understand.

Seeing Gabriel standing beside God, I wondered if perhaps he was being sent to save the human race. Gabriel would be a good choice. He was strong and mighty, and God had sent him to earth on other occasions.

But just when I expected God to call Gabriel forward, the Lamb stood.

A collective gasp went through the crowd. Surely not the Lamb!

"I am sending the Lamb to be a sacrifice for all mankind," God said. "Whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life with us."

"No!" angels shouted all around me. "Not our Prince!"

God raised his hand for silence. "It must be so. There is no other way."

I looked and saw Michael and his army draw their swords. Relief swept through me. The Lamb would be protected. No harm would come to him.

But God instructed them to put their weapons away. "The Lamb will go alone. He will become human. He will be born of a virgin, and he will grow in wisdom and stature. After a time, however, the men of earth will reject him and kill him."

A terrible hurt rose inside me. I'd heard humans talk about something called sorrow, and I knew this must be what they meant. The pain grew deeper than anything I'd ever known as I watched my beloved Prince--heaven's treasure--depart God's presence. I didn't understand how God could allow this to happen, but I trusted Him to know what was best. He had never failed us before, and I knew He would not fail us now.

I felt a strange wetness on my face and was surprised to find tears dripping from my eyes. I looked and saw others around me wiping wetness from their faces too.

I hadn't known before.

Angels can cry.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Click here to read An Angel's Story Part 2.

Click here to read An Angel's Story Part 3, the Conclusion.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

A Christmas Gift for Readers of The Planter's Daughter

Merry Christmas from 
My House to Yours! 

I hope this finds each of you ready to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!  May joy fill your homes and hearts throughout the Season!

I want to thank you, dear Readers, for your continued enthusiasm for The Planter's Daughter, the first book in The Women of Rose Hill historical series. Your many 5-star reviews, your emails, and your sharing about the book warm my heart. The themes in the book --- Freedom, Redemption, and Forgiveness---are also what Christmas is all about, so I wanted to give you something many of you have asked for: An Epilogue! A letter from Adella Rose has winged its way across time, and in it she shares about the Brantleys first Christmas in Oregon and gives clues about some of the characters you've wondered about. Enjoy! (Remember, you can also find out what happens next in The Widow of Rose Hill, book two!)

Merry Christmas!



December 24, 1860

Dearest Natalie,

Christmas greetings, Sister. I hope this finds you and those we love well. Thank you for your letter. Papa Brantley sent it once we settled here in our new home. I am ever so sorry to hear that Papa and George's anger against me continues, but I am grateful to know I can trust you with full confidence. If Papa knew where to find us, I fear what might happen. I pray someday my father and brother will understand why I made the choices I did.

Our happiness in this new life abounds. We've purchased a lovely parcel of land, with timber and a creek. Our new neighbors helped Seth in building a snug cabin and a barn as big as Texas. The community is new and full of hope and excitement. We now have ten wild mustangs, and Freedom will soon be a father. Seth hopes to build the herd and has already received offers from interested buyers, as strong horses are much in need. The land here is rich and fertile and everything from animal to human seems to thrive. God is so gracious to us.

We are making ready for our first Christmas in Oregon. Seth brought in a tree, and Mara and I have enjoyed decorating it with ribbon and stringed berries. She continues to thrive and is such a happy, sweet girl. I've shared our secret with her, although I don't expect she understands that a new baby will arrive in the spring. So many changes will take place in the new year, but I look ahead with much peace and anticipation.

We've heard from our friend on the Mexican border with news of Jeptha, Zina, and Aunt Lu. They've settled into a community and are well, for which we are ever so grateful. How I pray Mr. Lincoln will be able to abolish slavery once he takes office and can work to bring freedom to all. I firmly believe, dear Natalie, that Rose Hill would continue to prosper if Papa and George would listen to their hearts and free those enslaved. There are many free black men here in Oregon, and our hope is one day Jeptha and his family can come here to live and join Seth in raising and training horses. Until slavery is abolished, however, it would be far too dangerous.

Dearest Natalie, my heart's prayer is for your happiness. I sincerely hope you and George find it together. You may continue to write to me in care of Papa Brantley and he will see that I receive your letters. In this way, you may remain ignorant of our location should my father or George ask. Please give my love to Carolina, Mammy, and the others who remember me fondly.

Your Sister,

Adella Rose Brantely

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Don't Become A Lion's Snack!

"Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8

This verse from the Book of Peter is short and to the point: DON'T BECOME A LION'S SNACK!

Seriously, though, the imagery it conjures is frightening. Our enemy, Satan, is prowling the earth, looking for defenseless, unsuspecting people to devour. In Job 1:7, all the angels have come to present themselves to God, including Satan, because, remember, he is an angel in rebellion to God's authority. God asks Satan, "Where have you come from?" and Satan answers, "From roaming through the earth, going back and forth in it."


Image result for picture of lion stalking preyBut all too often, we forget this truth. We go about our lives, going to work, taking kids to school, paying bills, and we forget that there is a real enemy patiently waiting for just the right moment to attack us. Can you envision a lion stalking its prey? Well, that's you and me being stalked by the enemy of this world. 

The thing is, his tactics aren't always obvious. From the very beginning of humanity, he's used lies and deceit to get us to do his bidding. "Did God really say...?" he asks Eve in Genesis 3:1. And you know what? He is still asking that very same question today!! "Did God really say ______?" That blank can be filled in with everything from marriage, sex, money, faith, and anything else, all the way to "does God truly exist?" 

Sadly, most of us don't recognize the deception, the strategy against us, until we're in the throes of a life gone terribly wrong. I look back at certain situations I've gone through and clearly see the "flaming arrows" the enemy lobbed at me at different times in my life. But in the heat of the moment, in the daily struggle of life, I didn't. I didn't know the serious, real effort the enemy goes to to draw people away from God. To destroy lives. To steal blessings. Thankfully, as I've matured in life and matured in my faith, I DO see them now! Just last week, one of my faith-based books was attacked online by a group of women who had NOT read the book but deemed it "racist." I ran around cyberspace for days putting out fires and posting the truth, but I also recognized it as an attack from the enemy. As Ephesians 6:12 says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

What can we do against such an enemy? How can we prepare for the battles we WILL face? The Apostle Paul answers this in Ephesians 6:10-17 (LVG):

"Last of all I want to remind you that your strength MUST come from the Lord's mighty power within you. Put on ALL of God's armor so that you will be able to stand safe against all strategies and tricks of Satan...Use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you WILL still be standing up. But to do this, you will need the strong belt of truth and the breastplate of God's approval. Wear shoes that are able to speed you on as you preach the Good News of peace with God. In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. And you will need the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spriit--which is the Word of God."

Like soldiers going into battle, we MUST be prepared to face the enemy every. single. day! Think of what would happen if a soldier dropped his shield or weapon on the battlefield? Not good! 

I'll leave you with this song by Michael W. Smith. It's become a favorite anthem of mine lately!

Blessings to you and yours as you fight your battles,

Thursday, August 15, 2019

NEW Fiction Coming Fall 2020 & Giveaway!

Hi Everyone,

I want to share some exciting news with you! I've signed a contract with Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. to publish my NEW historical novel! Release date is tentatively set for Fall 2020. I'm in love with this story and the characters, and I can't wait to share it with you! If you've followed my posts the past year while I worked on this book then you know it's a time-slip story set in Nashville in 1936 and the 1860s. Stay tuned to the blog and/or my social media outlets to keep up with dates, news, and happenings.

Signing with Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. is like coming full-circle. How? Let me explain. 

Way back in 1973, my Sunday school teacher gave me The Children's Living Bible. I already owned a Bible Mom and Daddy had given me, but it was the King James Version and I didn't always understand it. The Living Bible, a paraphrase, made things so much clearer. A few years later, for Christmas in 1980, Mom and Daddy gave me The Living Bible. I was a senior in high school, getting ready to spread my wings and leave the safety of the nest. Mom knew I'd need God's word to protect and grow me, and the verse she wrote inside the cover, Psalm 119:11, is a verse that is still very near to my heart. 

The reason I feel like I've come full-circle is because these Bibles were published by Tyndale House Publishers. From Tyndale's website, the story of Tyndale House Publishers and it's founder, Kenneth N. Taylor goes like this:

For Dr. Kenneth Taylor, making Scripture accessible for all people was his life’s passion. Concerned that his ten children were having a hard time understanding the King James Bible, Taylor began paraphrasing the scriptures, so they could better understand the nightly Bible readings.

In 1954, as he rode the commuter train to his job in Chicago, Taylor started paraphrasing the New Testament into modern English. After seven years of writing and rewriting, he submitted the manuscript to several publishing houses, but it was rejected by all of them. Convinced that there was value in the work for more than just their children, Taylor and his wife Margaret, decided to use their limited savings to publish Living Letters.

In 1962, Taylor exhibited his self-published Living Letters at the Christian Booksellers Association convention. The following spring Billy Graham saw a copy of Living Letters and asked if he could print a special edition and offer it on the telecasts of his crusades. Half a million copies were given away through the Graham crusades. Ken Taylor’s dream had become a reality and more—a publishing entity had been born. Tyndale House Publishers grew from a modest home into a major publishing entity that reaches every continent in the world.

It makes my heart smile to know the same year I was born, Dr. Taylor and Rev. Billy Graham birthed Dr. Taylor's dream. 

Fast-forward to May 27, 1992. That's the day Jesus got all of me. I've shared about that amazing day here on the blog, but what simply happened is that I was reading in the Book of John, chapter 6, from my Living Bible, when God became real and personal to me. He went beyond the pages of the book and into my heart. 

Now it is my utmost honor and privilege to become an author for Tyndale House Publishers. Not only was this company founded on biblical principals that are still in place all these years later, they strive to give back from the blessings they receive. This video titled "Tyndale House Publishers: Who We Are" is so informative and inspiring.

So that's my news. To celebrate, I'm giving away TWO print copies of The Mail-Order Brides Collection, but only subscribers to this blog will be entered. If you haven't signed up yet, it's EASY! Just type your email address in the space to the right of this page where it says, "Sign up to receive my blog in your inbox." DONE. You'll be entered in the contest, plus you'll receive news and updates without having to remember to check back here. (I promise you won't be inundated with emails from me!) I'll draw two winners--one from "old" subscribers and one from "new" subscribers--on August 30. Sound good?

Thank you, Readers and all, who've supported me with your purchases, your encouraging emails and reviews, and your continued interest in my writing. I appreciate each and every one of you! I'm very excited to share this new novel with you. SOON! 



Tuesday, July 16, 2019

GOD has Already Prepared the Way

I positively LOVE this! My dear friend, author Paula Scott Bicknell, posted this meme yesterday, and when I read it, the truth of it hit me like a heavy rain shower, washing away all the doubt and fear that was building up inside me. See, I'd received two emails shortly before reading this meme. One held good news. The other, not so much. Neither are life-altering, but they're about something I've been praying about for several months. Something I really, really want to happen, yet have absolutely no control over.

Have you ever felt that? Fear and doubt about the future? I'm sure you have! Let me share six words of truth that will alleviate it.


Here's a little example of that:

Two years ago we knew our job in Texas was coming to an end. We were looking for a new position, but nothing opened up before we found ourselves unemployed for eight weeks. But you know what?


Walking at our boss's lake house in Kentucky, basking in
God's goodness to us. This is where He reminded me that He
prepared this place for me long before I arrived!
While we waited in Texas to see where God would take us, He was working here in Tennessee, clearing the way for us. It's amazing to look back and see how he arranged people and situations, almost like a giant chess board, throwing open the doors for us to live and work in the most wonderful place, for the most wonderful employers.

How do I know God worked out all the details? There is absolutely no way it could have simply been coincidence. The job we ended up getting--working as a couple on a large property--wasn't the job that was advertised. They originally were only looking to hire my husband. But we trusted God would provide a job for me too, and continued through the interview process. And you know what?


The property owner wanted to meet me too since I'd be living on the property. After Skyping with them a couple times, they liked me so much they offered me a job!


I can look back through so many situations in my life and see that even when I thought things were at their worst, when I'd lost all hope, GOD HAD ALREADY PREPARED THE WAY!

My prayer is this truth will resonate with you today and bring you hope that you are never alone, you are never forgotten, and you are always loved by our Heavenly Father! This song by Casting Crowns speaks to this in such a beautiful way! Enjoy!



Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Celebrating Juneteenth with a GIVEAWAY!

UPDATE: CONGRATULATIONS to Alyssa Daneri, winner of my JUNETEENTH GIVEAWAY! Thank you to everyone who entered!!!

Be sure to sign up to receive my Blog posts in your email box and "Like" my Facebook Author page to keep up with news, giveaways, and more!!

I appreciate each and every one of you!



Hey everyone,

Juneteenth is almost here! To celebrate, I'm doing a GIVEAWAY! Details in a minute. But first, if you're not familiar with this important date in history--and the reason for my interest in it--let me fill in a few gaps for you.

In June 1865, Union Army troops arrived in Galveston, Texas. The Civil War ended in April, but word traveled slowly in those days. Many Texans were unaware the war was over. They also didn't know slavery had finally been abolished, which meant over 250,000 slaves were still in bondage in Texas.

Ashton Villa, Galveston, Texas
On June 18, Union Army General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston Island with 2,000 Federal troops to occupy Texas on behalf of the Federal government. The following day, standing on the balcony of Galveston's Ashton Villa, Granger read aloud the contents of "General Order No. 3", announcing the total emancipation of those held as slaves:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.


Celebrations broke out in Galveston, but what about the slaves in the rest of the state? That's where my novel The Widow of Rose Hill begins! Widowed during the war, Natalie Ellis finds herself solely responsible for Rose Hill plantation. When Union troops arrive with a proclamation freeing the slaves, all seems lost. How can she run the plantation without slaves? In order to save her son’s inheritance she strikes a deal with the arrogant, albeit handsome, Colonel Maish. In exchange for use of her family’s property, the army will provide workers to bring in her cotton crop. But as her admiration for the colonel grows, a shocking secret is uncovered. Can she trust him with her heart and her young, fatherless son?

SO...to celebrate Juneteenth, I'm giving away a FREE BOOK! Choose The Widow of Rose Hill or one of my other books and I'll send it to the winner! How do you enter? Three easy steps:
  • Go to my Facebook Author Page and "LIKE" it if you haven't already!
  • Leave a comment and tell me if you've heard of Juneteenth, and then...
  • Tag a friend!
I'll draw the winner on June 30! 

Best wishes and Happy Juneteenth!


Thursday, May 2, 2019

Does God Watch Over Us?

(Originally posted in March 2015)

Last year was not a good year for our sheep. We started losing lambs in February 2014 and it didn't stop until April. Coyotes, bobcats, and even some wild hogs killed every single lamb that was born during the winter and spring. It was a sad, depressing time for us. Each day we would hop into the 4-wheeler to check on the sheep, wondering who would be missing from the group. I'd taken to naming the babies as they were born, but after Gimpy, Valentine, and Junior all went missing, I stopped giving them names. It was just too hard on my heart. When the easy-pickings-lambs were gone, the predator started on the ewes. Our herd dwindled down to what we referred to as "the lucky thirteen." Thirteen very skittish, unhappy survivors.

Mighty Hunter and I knew we had to do something or else the entire flock would be wiped out. But what? How do you protect sheep on 400 open acres of land, bordered by property dense with trees where all manner of predators live? We tried traps, snares, hired guns, and cameras, but still the sheep disappeared one by one. 

Then one day I read an article about guard llamas. Llamas have a natural alertness to their surroundings. They dislike dogs and are not afraid to attack a coyote or any other predator that threatens. The more I read, the more I liked the idea, so I passed the information on to the property owners. It was soon decided we needed a llama! 

One week later, Jaxx arrived at the ranch. We moved him and the sheep to a pasture a few days before Easter 2014 so they could bond. And you know what? We haven't lost one sheep since that day! Our herd is now up to 35 sheep, with all kinds of sweet babies. They are happy, content, and not the least bit afraid. Instead of staying huddled together in a tight group, they spread out to graze and bask in the sunshine. The lambs love "Uncle Jaxx" and follow him around when their mama's are busy eating. 

It's amazing what a difference one year and one llama made!

I can't help but think about how our Great Shepherd is always watching over us the way Jaxx watches over the sheep. Like our sheep, we are often in danger even when we don't realize it. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that our adversary, Satan, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. In Job 1:7, Satan describes how he stays busy: "...going to and fro on the earth, and walking up and down on it." And you know he is doing his best to wreak havoc in our lives while he's here!

Like our sheep, we need a protector. We need someone who will stay alert to dangers we can't see or anticipate. We need someone who isn't the least bit afraid of the enemy and is willing to do battle for us. I don't know about you, but I need someone who is willing to keep his eye on me 24/7/365 so I don't get myself into trouble! All too often we try everything but God.

Psalm 121 (NLT) pretty much says it all:

I look up to the mountains--does my help come from there?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. 
He will not let you stumble, the one who watches over you will not slumber. 
Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. 
The LORD himself watches over you!
The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade. 
The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.
The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. 
The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go.
Both now and forever. 

So on those days when you wonder if God is watching over you...on those days when you're frightened and feel alone...on those days when you sense the enemy is near...know without a doubt God is right there. He will never leave you or forsake you.

Rest in that peace.

Jaxx and his peeps, er, sheeps ;)

This week's Prayer Shout-Out countries are:
USA, France, Russia, Philippines, China, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Romania, Ukraine 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

When Easter Makes Sense

Getting older has an upside. It's called Wisdom! When I was a child and even a young adult, I didn't truly "get" Easter. I knew Jesus died on a cross even though he wasn't guilty of anything, and I knew he rose from the dead on the third day. I believed he did it for us because of his great love, yet the full meaning of what it was really about escaped me.

Now that I'm old and wise (heh heh), I get it. But I didn't acquire this understanding just by celebrating birthdays. It came from reading the Bible. Sounds simple, and yet it wasn't until I was in my thirties that I truly became a student of the Word. Imagine my utter amazement when I discovered that reading the Bible from cover to cover--from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21--makes things soooo much clearer than picking and choosing verses and books to read. The Bible truly is a story, and as a writer of fiction, that really speaks to me. I wouldn't pick up a novel and start reading from the middle or flip to this page or that page. I'd read it from Chapter One, page one, and continue on until I reached the end.

Don't get me wrong. I am NOT saying the Bible is fiction. Far from it! But it IS God's story. A story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. And when you read this amazing story, you can't help but see the order--the plan--that was in place from the very first four words:

"In the beginning GOD..." Genesis 1:1

The word for GOD used here is Elohim. It's plural. Why? Because God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were all present at the creation. When God made man, he said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness..." Genesis 1:26

John 1:1-3 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men."

When Jesus left heaven to come to earth, he knew it was temporary. He knew he'd only live a mere thirty-three years before he would die a horrific death on a cross, yet he came willingly. He lived in relative obscurity the first thirty years of his life, earning a living with his hands, and obeying the Laws of God. Yet he had a far greater purpose. When John the Baptist saw him, he spoke truth and prophecy about Jesus: "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." John 1:29

Those words came true when Jesus was crucified. He was nailed to the cross at 9:00 AM, the time of the Jewish morning sacrifice. He committed his spirit into the the hands of God the Father at 3:00 PM, the time of the Jewish evening sacrifice. When he spoke, "It is finished," (John 20:30) he became THE sacrificial Lamb for all humanity. He bore all our sins--every single one that I've committed, and that you've committed, and that every person who ever lived committed!--offering us reconciliation with God in a way that had never happened before. And God himself acknowledged this new relationship, this new covenant, by tearing the veil--a huge, thick curtain in the temple that separated the Holy of Holies, the place where he dwelt, from the rest of the temple--making it possible for us to approach him, to know him, as very few had experienced up until this point.

My prayer for you on this Easter Sunday is that you will know the truth of the cross and the empty tomb, and that the truth will set you free! Free from sin, free from shame, free to live with hope and joy, free to forgive and be forgiven, free to give and receive, free to die in the knowledge that Jesus has prepared a new home for you where you will dwell in God's presence for all eternity. 

That, my friend, is Easter. 

May you and yours have a blessed day celebrating all that Jesus is!!



Saturday, March 9, 2019

It's The Planter's Daughter's 2nd birthday! Enter to win an eBook copy!

UPDATE: Congratulations to Connie Porter, winner of the free eBook copy of The Planter's Daughter!! Connie, I sent the book to you via Amazon email. I hope you enjoy it!!


Happy 2nd Birthday to my historical romance novel The Planter's Daughter! I can't believe it's been two years since it released out into the world. I'm so grateful for all the readers who've fallen in love with Adella and Seth's story. You've cheered for them as well as the slaves as they all seek Freedom.

To celebrate the 2nd birthday of my book-baby, I'm giving away an eBook copy of it! To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on THIS post. I will only draw names of those who leave a comment HERE!

Thank you again, Readers, for all your lovely 5-star reviews, wonderful comments, and enthusiasm for the the second book in the series, The Widow of Rose Hill.

I'll draw a winner at the end of March and post the name here on the blog and on social media! If it's YOU, I'll need you to contact me and provide an email address.

Good luck!


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Congratulations Winners of My Big Book Giveaway!

THANK YOU to everyone who signed up to receive my blog via email! I post a new article a few times a month on topics I hope you'll find inspiring and beneficial as we walk this earth together.

I sent each winner an email notifying them.

Thank you again for signing up!



Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Valleys and Mountaintops

I've been reading in Psalm 23 lately. It's such a short little psalm, and yet it packs so many powerful truths.

Hubby and I are in Colorado this week. We traveled here with our sweet boss to visit her brother. His estate is absolutely gorgeous, and admittedly we are being spoiled rotten. We have our own private suite overlooking the Rocky Mountains, with snow-covered pine trees right out my window. We've enjoyed seeing the deer, snow falling, and gorgeous sunsets.

As I read through Psalm 23 yesterday morning, I realized I would not be here in this beautiful place with these people I've come to love had I not walked through "a valley of the shadow of death" back in 2017. In August of that year, we lost our job working as caretakers of a large ranch in Texas. We trusted God had plans for us, but those eight weeks we waited to discover his plans were some of the longest of our lives.

Now as I look back on those days, I'm so incredibly thankful for them! I'm so thankful God heard my cry and removed us from a situation that wasn't good for us anymore. I was emotionally exhausted and hubby was physically exhausted, so it was definitely time to move on.

Every day we thank God for bringing us to Tennessee to work for the most wonderful, funny, and generous boss. We are blessed beyond measure. As King David said in Psalm 23, the cup the LORD prepared for us truly is overflowing, and we are basking in his goodness and mercy. Valleys are part of life, but so are mountaintops. And my mountaintop is currently snow-covered and glorious.

If you are walking through a dark valley, hang in there! God's ways are not our ways, but his plans are always, always good!! Your mountaintop is just ahead!



Psalm 23 King James Version (KJV)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Lessons from Ruth

I'm reading in the Book of Ruth these days. It's a very small book, only four chapters long, about an obscure woman named Ruth. She wasn't a queen or a descendant of Abraham or anyone special...or so it seems.

Do you feel like that sometimes? No one special? I do. As the youngest of five children, I often felt unseen. I was shy and quiet in school, so no one paid much attention to me. I've outgrown much of that shyness, but I'm still a relatively quiet person. I'd rather let everyone else be the center of attention and stand back in the shadows.

Ruth's story is a story of hope for everyone, but it's especially hopeful for people like me, the shadow lurkers. Ruth was born in Moab. Her husband's family had come to Moab because there was famine in their home country. They were of the Hebrew, or Jewish, faith, but Ruth was not. After Ruth's husband, brother-in-law, and father-in-law all died, Ruth's mother-in-law, Naomi, decided to return to the land of her birth. Ruth insisted on going with her, leaving behind her own blood relatives. When they reached Bethlehem, Ruth worked hard to provide for her mother-in-law by picking up leftover wheat in a field being harvested. The owner of the field, Boaz, turned out to be a godly relative of Ruth's father-in-law, and he married Ruth. They had a son named Obed who had a son named Jesse who had a son named David who became King!

What if Ruth hadn't gone with Naomi--hadn't obeyed what her heart was telling her was right--and had instead stayed in her homeland? King David would have never been born!

God had plans for Ruth that she could have never dreamed possible. He saw her there in Moab and chose her, not a Hebrew woman, to be the great grandmother of King David. She is listed in Matthew 1 in the lineage of Jesus! We remember her today and tell her story because of her obedience, her faith even when she didn't know what was ahead of her.

Ruth's story tells us to never give up and always trust God's plan even when it seems too big, too scary, too unknown. He sees the whole picture in a way we can't and probably never will. We don't know if Ruth lived to see David on the throne, but her obedience made it possible.

Is God asking you to trust him today about something?

Ruth's advice would be simple: Do it! You won't ever regret it! Always remember that He is El Roi, the God who sees you, knows you, and knows the plans He has for you!

Have a fabulous day! And be sure to enter the drawing for FREE books! I'm giving away a whole bunch of books at the end of January. Some of mine, some by favorite authors, and some Chicken Soup for the Soul books that have my stories included in them. All you have to do is type your email address in the "sign up for my blog" box at the top right of this blog page. Easy peasy! Winners will be notified by email. (US residents only, please!)



Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Finding HOPE in the New Year!


The last few years I've chosen a word to sort of embody the new year. I try not to simply pick a word I like, but rather a word that is on my heart and in my spirit. A word I need to learn more about, to really dig into.

2017 was a year of TRUST. On January 1st I wrote that word on a rock I found on the property in Texas where we were living and working. I also included the scripture reference I felt God had given me to remind me to trust Him: "Taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who trusteth in Him." (Psalm 34:8) I had several things in mind that I needed to trust him for and set about praying for them. As you may have guessed, they were NOT the things I truly needed to trust God with. In August of that year we lost our jobs. We spent the next eight weeks learning to trust God's plan and His provision. Our faithful Father knew what our future held when I chose the word Trust, and He taught us that no matter what challenges we face in life, we are His children. In October we left Texas and moved to Tennessee to begin our new jobs working as Caretakers of a beautiful farm owned by a beautiful widow who truly loves and appreciates us. I look back on 2017 with joy and gladness of heart because I learned the deeper meaning of trust.

2018 was a year of REST. After all the excitement and stress of 2017, I needed rest. Rest of body. Rest of mind. And rest of soul. I claimed Hebrews 4 in the Message Bible for the new year. The word "rest" appears in this passage ten times! King David also spoke of rest in Psalm 62:1 & 5: "My soul finds rest in God alone; my hope comes from him." I learned that rest doesn't mean being lazy and laying around. It means pausing from life's worries and busyness to remember that God is God and we are not. We can safely rest in Him and His love.

Because I rested so well in the LORD through 2018, I find myself raring to go in 2019! As I pondered what word to chose, I kept coming back to Expectation. While we were in Texas over the Christmas holiday, we took our boys to the coast for a family vacation. I found a sweet little rock on the beach that would be perfect for my word of the year, and suddenly I knew what it was: HOPE. The definition of hope is "a feeling of expectation and a desire for a certain thing to happen; to expect with confidence; trust. I don't know exactly what I'm expecting, but I know it will be good. God is our Father and He loves pouring out blessings on his children. Yes, he also disciplines when we go astray and disobey, but His heart is that of a loving Daddy, our Abba. He already knows what 2019 holds, so I'm heading into it with expectation--with hope!--willing to go wherever He leads.

My heart's prayer for 2019 for myself and for you is found in one of my favorite verses:

"May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

Blessings to you and yours in the New Year!


P.S. Here are some more of my favorite verses that talk about Hope:

Psalm 33:18-22
Jeremiah 29:11
Psalm 42:11
Isaiah 40:31
Hebrews 11:1
Hebrews 10:23

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Mary, Did You Know?

This has long been one of my favorite songs, although not just at Christmastime but all year long. Years ago, when I was pregnant with my first son, Mary became a very real person in my heart and mind. Before that she'd simply been a character in a story. A beautiful story to be sure, and one that I believe with all my heart. But Mary, the mother of Jesus, was difficult for me to relate to. She seemed so perfect, so old even. But she wasn't either of those. Yes, God found favor with her, which tells me she loved Him with all her heart and soul, but she wasn't perfect. She needed a Savior, just like the rest of mankind. She was also a very young woman -- perhaps only fourteen or fifteen years old.

That year as I felt my baby moving within my womb, I couldn't help but wonder what Mary's emotions and thoughts were when she felt Jesus -- God! -- moving within her womb. When she kissed his sweet, downy cheeks after he was born. When she watched him grow into a boy and then a man. All the things I've experienced as a mother, Mary experienced too.

I wrote about this in my story called "Mary and Me." It's published in several Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas books. If you're interested, you can click HERE to order the book.

In the meantime, enjoy this song. And may your heart be filled with the Wonder of Christ come to earth as a tiny Baby, all because of His great love for us!

Christmas Blessings to you all,


Thursday, December 6, 2018

Why Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh Matter

The story of Jesus' birth is one of my all-time favorite passages in the Bible. The gospels of Matthew and Luke each tell the tale. If you're not in the habit of reading the Story at Christmas, I encourage you to grab your Bible and enjoy reading about the true reason for the season! Joseph and the faith he found to accept Mary as his wife. Sweet Mary, a young woman who found so much favor with GOD that He bestowed upon her the incredible honor of being His Son's mother. The shepherd's. The angels. It all fills my heart to overflowing with gratitude that Jesus, who is Emmanuel--GOD with us!-- left the glory of heaven to come down to dwell among us. Amazing!

As a child, I remember being fascinated with the three kings in our Nativity set. They rode on camels and were dressed in colorful robes. Luke's gospel doesn't mention them, but Matthew 2:1-12 tells about these special visitors who came looking for the Messiah. They were the Magi, or the three kings, as they are more familiarly known. These wise men were from the east, although we don't know specifically from where. Some believe they were Persian priests of a religion that paid particular attention to the stars. They'd seen a new star in the sky, one that clearly made an huge impression on them. They packed their bags, and with the star leading the way, they set off to an unknown destination.

Can you imagine? These men stopped everything they were doing in order to seek the Messiah. We don't know exactly how long their journey took, but clues in the text tell us it may have been as long as two years. How many of us are willing to put our lives on hold indefinitely to go in search of the truth?

When they arrive in Jerusalem, they immediately go to the palace and meet with King Herod. “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:2)

One question comes to mind when I read that verse: Why did these foreigners know about the star but apparently not one Jew did? No one knows the answer to this as far as I can tell.

When the wise men learn from Herod that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, they set out and found the child with his mother. We all need to pay attention to what happens next. 

"On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh." Matthew 2:11.

As I read this verse, I'm struck that men from a faraway land, who most likely had not been raised to worship GOD, bowed down to worship a baby! And not only did they worship him, they brought gifts to honor him. Gold, frankincense and myrrh. All very valuable and very useful in that time period. (Three gifts is the reason people think there were only three wise men, but there certainly could have been more!). I imagine Joseph used the gold and possibly the proceeds from selling the other gifts to fund their journey to Egypt after the angel told him in a dream to flee Bethlehem in order to keep Jesus from Herod's wrath. (Matthew 2:13-18) GOD's provision for his Son came from the generosity of individuals with willing hearts. Beautiful!

What can we learn from the wise men?

  • Study the scriptures and know them! 
  • Listen for GOD's voice. Even those who haven't been raised in church can hear from GOD!
  • Fall down in worship. In surrender. He is worthy of our praise!
  • Bring him your best, whatever it is! If you're like me, you don't have a supply of gold, frankincense or myrrh lying around. But I do have time, talents, material blessings, and spiritual gifts that can and should be used in his honor. Not sure what you can bring to the manger to present to the King? Pray about it! 
  • Lastly, have a willing and obedient heart. Willing to go where GOD sends you. Willing to give what GOD asks of you. Obey His word and commands. The wise men obeyed the warning they'd received not to return to Jerusalem. Imagine the consequences if they'd disobeyed. Jesus would have certainly been safe. His Father would have seen to that. But the wise men themselves might have been put to death because of Herod's jealousy. 
There are definitely lessons to be learned all throughout the Bible, even in the Christmas story!

Blessings to each of you!